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Posted on 19 September 2012

Education

40% graduates to come from two countries

By the end of this decade, four out of every 10 of the world's young graduates are going to come from just two countries - China and India.

The projection from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) shows a far-reaching shift in the balance of graduate numbers, with the rising Asian economies accelerating ahead of the United States and western Europe. The forecasts for the shape of the "global talent pool" in 2020 show China as rapidly expanding its graduate numbers - set to account for 29% of the world's graduates aged between 25 and 34.

The biggest faller is going to be the United States - down to 11% - and for the first time pushed into third place, behind India. The US and the countries of the European Union combined are expected to account for little more than a quarter of young graduates. Russia is also set to decline - its share of the world's graduates almost falling by half since the beginning of the century. Indonesia, according to the OECD's projections, will rise into fifth place.

Higher education has become the mirror and magnifier of economic performance - and in the post-World-War-II era, universities in the US, western Europe, Japan and Russia have dominated. The US in particular has been the university superpower - in wealth, influence and until recently in raw numbers.  Chinese parents rent apartments near schools to cut travelling time during university entrance exams

Up until 2000, the US still had a share of young graduates similar to China. And Japan had as big a proportion of young graduates as India. Now China and India are the biggest players. Their rise in graduate numbers reflects their changing ambitions - wanting to compete against advanced economies for high-skill, high-income employment. Instead of offering low-cost manufacture, they are targeting the hi-tech professional jobs that have become the preserve of the West