Tag: economic growth

News: Report in UK highlights role of universities in public and private sector

UUKUniversities UK (UUK) has published a new report examining the role of UK universities in the economy. Universities UK was established in 1918 and is a network of 133 executive heads (vice-chancellors/principals) of universities in the UK. The organization is funded through its members and works as an advocate for the sector.

The new report is a part of their series regarding “The funding environment for universities”, with emphasis in this issue being on economic development, regional growth and labour market issues.

Examining national data, the report rather explicitly places higher education to a market relevant position, identifying the sector as a “high-growth UK export industry”, aside having a role in skills production and innovation. The report collected data for 2011-2012 year and highlights that the sector generated over 100 billion euros in output, employing over 375 000 people. Together with additional jobs that are dependent on universities, the sector stands fro 2,7% of UK employment in 2011.

The report further highlights the role of universities in innovation and knowledge production (knowledge exchange, commercialization, indirect innovation and network creation, and entrepreneurship support services), as well as producing the necessary skills. The report highlights that: “The UK is seeing a growth in high-wage analytical, non-routine jobs; an expansion ofmanual low-wage roles; and a contraction of middle-wage jobs” (p.4), emphasizing the role of universities in this shift. In the press release of the report, UUK cites Dame Julia Goodfellow, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Kent, who highlights: “The UK must ensure that the higher-level skills required in the labour market are met and our universities have an important role to play in meeting this demand, both through their more traditional model of three-year undergraduate university study, and by developing other routes  to higher skills.” She continues further: “Universities are a globally recognised source of innovation and research and, in turn, attract direct foreign investment. They generate knowledge and discovery that can boost both the private and the public sectors.

Hedda monthly literature tips

In this first post of the Hedda monthly literature tips series, we asked two doctoral fellows from University of Oslo – Rachel Sweetman and Jens Jungblut about their recent literature tips.

Here are their recommendations:

Does Education Matter?
by A. Wolf, 2002

9780141935669HThe book’s full title, ‘Does Education Matter? Myths About Education and Economic Growth’ sums up what this book is getting at, and why it’s asking such important questions for anyone interested in contemporary higher education. Wolf is an economist and policy analyst who turns her acute evidence-based gaze on the accepted orthodoxy that universities should be approached as drivers of economic growth.

This argument has underpinned many politicians enthusiasm for expanding and investing in mass higher education around the world. However, as Wolf argues through historical analysis, economic data and also more polemical discussions about the way the value and uses of universities have been presented over time, there is not really a very strong case to support this. There is little to suggest that more higher education leads to more growth or prosperity, although these sometimes accompany each other.

It’s a book that shows how important it is to check assumptions about higher education against evidence, and not to assume that the most influential voices, or accepted opinions are correct. It is also a book which does an unusually good job of combining careful and clear empirical evidence with argument and discussion. Wolf is not just interested in arguing that the case for universities as drivers of growth is weak, but seeks to convince her readers that by pursuing policies based on these assumptions, we may do harm; we risk failing to achieve aims related to growth while undermining more important and real functions and values which universities have served over time, such as the development of knowledge and new ideas. We also risk investing money in universities that might be better spent on other or earlier forms of education.

EU focus on youth unemployment – can vocational education save Southern Europe?

EUThe current economic crisis has had wide spread effects and one can frequently hear talk about the lost generations of youth who were hit particularly hard. Recent CEDEFOP skills forecasts indicate a rather slow growth, even when following the more optimistic scenarios. According to the baseline scenario, the EU27 countries can expect to return to pre-crisis levels between 2017 and 2018, according to the pessimistic scenario they would still be below crisis levels in 2025.

Furthermore, the predictions also include a gradual but constant increase of people working in high skilled sectors, and even low-skilled sectors are expected to increase in complexity. But also these predictions refer to the issues with youth unemployment, indicating the urgency of the issue.

In July 2013, the European Alliance for Apprenticeships was launched, marking the EUs increased interest in combating youth unemployment. Apprenticeships are seen as a key aspect of promoting new arenas for learning and facilitating employability.

At a CEDEFOP conference earlier this summer, the EU Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth Androulla Vassiliou explained some of the rationales, highlighting strong EU involvement in the area

OECD projections of economic growth 2060

The OECD has produced a prognosis of expected economic growth up to 2060 based on current developments: “Looking to 2060: Long-term growth prospects for the world“.

The development does put education and training to the core of these developments, as the emerging economies that are seen to have a sharp growth rate, are dependent on a well educated work force, whereas the developed countries are facing an aging population that decreases the available work force. The report foresees that China will become the largest economy of the world in just a few years, in 2016. Along with India as an emerging economy also likely to surpass the US in the long run, this would dramatically shift the economic power balance in the world. Question becomes – what would this mean for higher education?

The whole policy paper can be downloaded here (pdf).

Guest blogger: Economic growth and higher education policies in Brazil – a link?

Simon Schwartzman

Simon Schwartzman – senior researcher at the Instituto de Estudos do Trabalho e Sociedade in Rio de Janeiro.

In this guest entry, Simon Schwartzman examines the link between economic growth and higher education expansion. He argues that this links exists, but not in the expected direction; economic growth is the cause, not the product of the expansion of higher education and research. However, this situation may be changing now, with the growing demand for qualified manpower and research capabilities by the knowledge economy.

This post was originally published as at International Higher Education (issue 67), but is being reposted with permission from the author. 

Brazil is one of the new “emerging economies.” It is flexing its muscles to become a leading international player, and thus, it needs good university institutions capable to produce the scientists and engineers needed to keep the momentum. Therefore, clear policies are required, to improve the standards of universities and the quality of higher education institutions, based on a clear identification of priorities. However, contrary to the assumptions and expectations of external observers, Brazil does not have such a strategy.

Brazil experienced cycles of rapid economic growth in the 1930s, after World War II, in the 1970s, and again after 2002. Each of these cycles can be explained by favorable external conditions—the revenues created by the agricultural and mining sectors, the influx of international investments, and the use of such resources to finance a growing public sector, the steady transfer of the population from the countryside to the urban centers, and generating a growing internal consumption market. These developments were also preceded by internal reorganizations of the economy, controlling inflation and increasing the governments’ ability to raise taxes, as it happened in the late 1960s and more recently in the 1990s. In none of these cycles is a causal link found between investments in education, science, and technology and economic growth.