Regional Summary

Regional Summary


This report examines 14 countries of the European Union: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, The Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom; and two countries of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA): Norway and Switzerland. Limited data on higher education are available for six countries of Central and Eastern Europe: the Czech and Slovak Republics, Hungary, Poland, Bulgaria, and Romania. These 22 countries annually produce approximately 300,000 first university degrees in natural sciences and engineering, considerably more than the United States, but considerably less than the Asian region.[7]  (See text table 1.)

See appendix table 1.

Relative to population (Europe has almost twice the population in the college-age group than the United States), however, Central and Western European institutions are not producing more NS&E degrees than those in the United States. In 1992, 4.6 percent of the college-age cohort in the United States received an NS&E degree, while 4 percent of the European college-age population received such a degree in that same year. (See appendix table 1.) Many European countries' first university degrees, however, are for 6-year programs and therefore may be more comparable with a combined bachelors and masters degree in the United States.

European and Asian universities are generally more focused on natural science and engineering (NS&E) fields than universities in the United States. About 30 percent of total first university degrees in European Union (EU) countries are in fields of natural sciences and engineering; about 15 percent of U.S. bachelor's degrees are in these fields. (See figure 1 and appendix table 2.)

In 1992, doctoral degrees awarded in NS&E fields by Western and Central European institutions totaled more than 25,000, 38 percent above the U.S. level, and more than twice as many as Asian countries. (See text table 2 and appendix table 3.) Like the United States, a large percentage of European doctoral degrees are earned by foreign students.

See appendix table 3.

How has this pool of scientists and engineers expanded during the 1970s and 1980s, and what are the prospects for the 1990s? The following section examines the growth in science and engineering (S&E) education from 1975 to 1992 and the significance of the European region in human resources for science. A regional summary of three dimensions-human resources, research and development (R&D) investment, and economic growth-is followed by country-specific details on each dimension. Near-term prospects for Europe's human resources for science and technology are provided in a concluding section.


[7] Natural sciences include physical, biological, earth, atmospheric, and oceanographic, agricultural, and mathematics and computer sciences. Medical sciences are not included.