Saturday, November 5, 2016

Remember When the United States Could Create Grate-full Again?

As GOP austerity measures tank public schools and denigrate some pretty awesome state universities, as the levels of hard patent applications in the United States fall and applications in China soar, “China became the world's top patent filer in 2011, surpassing the United States and Japan as it steps up innovation to improve its intellectual property rights track record…” Reuters, 12/21/11. And this disparity is widening fast. But think of the money we’re saving! After all, free public schools are raw socialism. I’ve never seen more politicians making fun of educated “elites” just as their own children become saddled with expensive debt for often second-rate higher education.
And as China has decided that it not only can compete with the United States for political and economic prestige, it has also decided to challenge us in educating its current and future generations… and more than a few influencers from the rest of the world. Since we’re slowly making our schools decreasingly competitive, as our continually sinking comparative test scores clearly sustain – year-after-year – we’re easy pickings for the People’s Republic.
Oh, and while we have the brain power and our top universities are competitive with any other schools in the world, we are no longer at the top of the heap. Our waste of smart American children on second and third rate schools is like using high quality diamonds just to cut glass. We’re not even on top with our technology universities, and foreign students are now flocking to China for the best of the best in higher education, and China wants to spread her influence with international graduates going back to their home countries with ties and fond memories of their student days in China.
The increasing stature of Chinese universities is helping the country’s marketing effort. Tsinghua University in Beijing edged MIT for top spot in the 2016 U.S. News & World Report’s ranking of the best global universities for engineering, and three other Chinese institutions also broke into the top 10. A pair of freshly minted scholarship funds also sweetens the deal for international students. In the summer of 2015, [Chilean student Magdalena] Gonzalez joined 99 other students in the first cohort of Yenching Scholars at Peking University. (Roughly one-third of the seats are reserved for Chinese nationals.) The scholars are housed in the former imperial gardens of China’s first modern university while they participate in a one- or two-year, all-expenses-paid master’s program in Chinese studies, taught in English.”, September 12th.
The ability to bring foreign students to study in your country has a long-term socio-political value that has very high long-term returns for the host country. Not to mention a few big deals along the way. And the Chinese get that, just as xenophobia seems to be sweeping Europe and the United States. “China faces stiff competition in its attempts to attract more foreigners to its groves of academe. The United States leads all nations in educating international students, with some 975,000 foreigners enrolled on American campuses, including more than 300,000 Chinese nationals. Britain hosts nearly 495,000 foreign students, while China ranks third. In addition, many Asian countries, most notably India, are launching programs to plug long-standing brain drains by retaining their own students. Then there’s the competition in China itself from American and European schools setting up branch campuses, including Duke University’s collaboration with Wuhan University and New York University’s Shanghai campus.” To mention just a few of the universities with PRC campuses and joint ventures.
Oh, and that picture above? A graduation ceremony at Tianjin Medical University. But as I said before, just think how much public money we’re not spending on education… and how much less in taxes future generations will be paying when the jobs they can get… well… just don’t pay so well.
I’m Peter Dekom, and it’s strange to watch the United States turn on itself as so much of the rest of the world just gloats… and takes advantage of our self-imposed weakness.

No comments: