Chapter 2:

Higher Education in Science and Engineering


International Comparisons of S&E Training in Higher Education


International Comparison of Foreign Students  top

For many countries within the Asian region, the attraction of students to S&E is an important aspect of their economic growth strategy, including expanding access and participation of foreign students. Universities in Australia are aggressively recruiting foreign students, and the government is including the provision of educational services to Pacific Rim countries as part of its national economic planning. The long-range plan is to have 2.8 million foreign students by 2010 (Blight 1996). Japan currently educates 50,000 foreign students in its university system, mainly from China and South Korea. Through scholarships and fellowships, Japan seeks to double that number by the year 2000 (NSF 1997c). The number of U.S. students studying in Japan is growing, and includes many who have received Japanese scholarships. (See text table 2-14.) Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, and Hong Kong are replicating U.S. research universities and expanding their graduate S&E programs with Chinese students (Sales 1997).

Among European countries, foreign participation is attributable to a long-standing tradition of educating students from former colonies, as well as increased emphasis on European-wide exchanges. European countries have a higher percentage of foreign student enrollment than the United States when all levels of higher education are included. In 1995, foreign students accounted for between 6 and 9 percent of enrollment in higher education in selected European countries, compared to about 3 percent in the United States. (See text table 2-15.) Among European countries, universities in Germany and France-with minimal or no tuition required for higher education-are receiving an increasing number of Western and Central European students. Germany is attempting to build up the higher education institutions in the former East Germany and Central Europe. While the percentage of foreign students is relatively low, they are concentrated at the doctoral level in Europe and the United States.

International Comparison of Doctoral Training  top

Increasing global capacity in S&E education is evident at the advanced degree level. This section presents aspects of doctoral degree preparation among selected countries of Asia, Europe, and North America, including overall degree production and participation of women and foreign students.

Europe leads North America and Asia in number of earned S&E doctoral degrees. In 1995, doctoral degrees awarded in S&E fields by Western and Eastern European institutions totaled 45,647-about 60 percent higher than the North American level and almost three times as many as the number recorded for Asian countries. (See text table 2-16 and appendix table 2-32.)

Comparing female representation in doctoral S&E degrees across countries, the United States ranks lower than France and higher than Germany. For example, within French universities in 1995, women earned a higher percentage of the NS&E doctoral degrees than did women in U.S. universities. (See text table 2-17.)

While graduate S&E programs are expanding rapidly in Asia, women have not yet entered those programs in large numbers. Women still earn only a small fraction of the doctoral S&E degrees issued in Asia. In fact, Asian women are more likely to obtain a doctoral degree in S&E fields from a U.S. university than from a home country university. For example, in 1995, women earned 7 percent of doctoral degrees in South Korea, but 12 percent of the doctoral degrees earned by South Koreans in the United States. For women from Taiwan, the figures were 9 and 16 percent, respectively (NSF 1996d).

The United States, the United Kingdom, and France are the world's leading countries in terms of foreign students in S&E at the doctoral level. For example, 57 percent of the engineering doctoral degrees awarded in the United States in 1995 went to foreign students. (See figure 2-21.) In that same year, almost 50 percent of the engineering doctoral degrees awarded in the United Kingdom, and almost 30 percent of those awarded by French universities in the natural sciences, were earned by foreign students.


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