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US vs. European higher education

September 9, 2005 by Saar Drimer

The Economist has a series of articles comparing the US vs. European higher education systems. And, well, why the US boasts 17 out 20 top ranking universities in the world. It’s a good read with praise and criticism of bother styles. The articles are here, here and here; see also Shanghai Jiao Tong University’s top 500 university list.

The US does one thing that is not listed in these articles which contributes the most to their success: encouraging and welcoming the youngest and brightest from around the world to be educated and stay there. Let’s start from the beginning. Each country bears the cost for raising a child from birth to maturity (aside from money spent by the parents.) Some countries invest more, some less, but there is always a cost, and it is not a trivial one (if you find a link listing numbers, please forward it to me.) What the US gets is the cream of the crop of every country without spending a dime on their upbringing. That’s genius. Check out research groups at any US university, the majority of researchers are foreign, not American, and most of them stay there for good.

In addition to that, the immigration laws are more favorable towards people with higher degrees. You can knock down 2 years of processing time from your green card application if you have a PhD, for example.

Meanwhile, I got an excellent resource from Cambridge entitled “Guide for PhD Candidates at Cambridge Computer Lab.” I’m not sure if any of you be interested in reading this, but if you are familiar with the research studies system in the US, you might want to compare it to this; it’s significantly different.


3 Comments »

  1. Helen says:

    Interesting. I will look more closely at the links, which, by the way, I had no trouble getting to. Unlike the map, for some strange reason.

    Take care!

    H

  2. albert b says:

    Having attended all three levels of public university in California (community college, state college, and University of California) I can confirm that many of the very best students, especially at the graduate level, come from abroad.

    And yet … America still runs huge trade deficits. It’s especially interesting that we import so much high tech equipment. I would think, with our great and wonderful research capabilities, someone might be able to invent a way to, uh, how do you say? COMPETE

    Japan, France, Germany, Britain, and the Scandinavian countries, by contrast, avoid such sizable deficits — and care for their people significantly better.

    In the US, we still have a 12 or 13 percent poverty rate. (Under Bush II it’s rising.) Something like 40 million don’t have medical insurance. Evidently, the great success of Nobel Prize winning researchers at our elite universities isn’t improving the life for people at the bottom. Shouldn’t it?

    So, dare I ask: what, really, has the top flight nature of our university system done for the people? Would the nation be better off siphoning some of those research dollars away from the elite universities and toward community colleges and underfunded high schools?

    I guess what I’m really getting at with the not so cogent attempt at reasoning above is: sure we have a great collection of universities here, but, say there, friend, do you have any leads on a job with health benefits? I have an advanced degree from a top 20 school…

  3. Saar Drimer says:

    Albert,
    You raise some good points, but I tend to disagree on some.
    The results from research can not be directly linked to the people, but it can indirectly, or shall I say, eventually. Sure, NSF/DARPA are not exactly researching how to create jobs for the poor, but they are developing some technologies that will eventually make their lives easier. For example, think of food developed for astronauts and how it may come to benefit the distribution of vital nutrition to the people some day.
    The deficit is another matter… but realize that you live in a non-socialistic country (as opposed to the countries you have listed.) There are good and bad things in both styles of governing.

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