University expansion in a changing global economy. Triumph of the BRICs?

Carnoy, Martin, et al. University Expansion in a Changing Global Economy: Triumph of the BRICs?. Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press, 2013.

BRICsThe four largest developing economies – Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC) are important international players today, however their future role in the globalized economy will depend on how and to what extent they develop their higher education systems. China has carried out major transformations of its higher education system as well as has been able to improve quality of research; thus, it is likely to turn its economy into a highly developed powerhouse over the next generation

The case of Russia is less clear. The State is in the early stage of trying to reorganize its higher education system and seems little committed to transforming Russia’s economy from oil dependence. On the other hand, this country has a big advantage in the deeply university-trained human capital and its qualified labor force, but the State is not doing much to organize the society to compete in the global knowledge economy.

Brazil is showing itself as an innovative society which is producing high-quality research in universities through a greater investment than the other BRICs in R&D. If these trends go on together with decreasing poverty rates the country could keep its GDP growing and acquire stronger global relevance. Its higher education system experienced a rapid expansion and has increased access for the poor, but the threat of low quality of pre-tertiary education and higher education being mostly private is still there

India gets the most pessimistic picture. Its main weakness is the difficulty to expand education while increasing quality. Enrollment in higher education is growing but almost all in very low quality institutions, many of them private. India is also investing very little in higher education and is facing several challenges, e.g. rural and urban poverty or gender inequality.

Therefore, there is no doubt about BRICs turning into even more relevant global actors, but their future position in the International Community will depend at a great extent on the next steps they will take regarding to higher education.

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