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Sunday June 24, 2018


Build a big, strong, respected higher-education system in your country and your economy will grow.

It’s not just me saying that. A London School of Economics analysis of nearly 15,000 universities in 78 countries has found that doubling the number of universities in a region results in a 4.7% increase in GDP per capita in that area within five years.

From a higher education point of view, Thailand, Argentina, Chile, Turkey, Iran, Colombia and Serbia have the potential to outstrip the BRICS nations of Brazil, Russia India, China and South Africa – the countries traditionally identified as global rising stars.

In all these countries, GDP is below US$15,000 a head, yet at least half the youth population is enrolled in higher education. Participation grew by 5% or more between 2010 and 2014; their research output is growing from a base of at least 30,000 papers a year; and they have at least one university in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings. The full methodology for the analysis is available here.

In our case, TACTICS is an acronym rather than a description of a carefully calibrated strategy in every instance. Our countries are Thailand, Argentina, Chile, Turkey, Iran, Colombia and Serbia, a group we’ve selected after crunching the data with colleagues at the Centre for Global Higher Education at University College London.

Whether these fertile conditions do indeed bear fruit remains to be seen. Like any such group, the TACTICS are far from homogeneous, with each country having a different cocktail of strengths and weaknesses.

Take, for example, Turkey and Iran. Both perform well on gross tertiary enrolment, and growth in participation over a period of time. Both have a rich intellectual history too.

However, if you look closely at the performance of these countries from a higher-education perspective, as we do in this analysis, then their growth really could be a defining feature of the next decade.

In their research output, university participation and performance in global rankings, these overlooked “ones to watch” are already frequently out-punching the BRICS nations. And when countries perform well in these areas, they almost always reap the economic rewards too.

Source: Times Higher Education

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