(Modern University for the Humanities, Moscow)
Higher education in the world countries: the analysis of international statistics and the results of the global ratings in education.
The purpose of the study is to define the strengths and weaknesses of the Russian educational system in the context of international indicators. It gives the possibility to compare the positive and negative aspects of development of national educational systems and to identify the global trends of educational development in the world. Besides the data issued annually by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, in the analysis there were considered the results of the global ratings characterizing the basic aspects of world education.
In order to highlight a group of countries-leaders in tertiary education, the following boundary conditions are offered:
1)index of education, describing the educational potential of the population - not less than 0.95; 2) the ratio of 25-to-64-year-olds with tertiary education (level 5A/6) - at least 15%; 3) number of university students – no less than 0,5 million; 4) share of university students in population - no less than 2%. Only 12 countries out of 191 world countries meet these requirements: USA, Russia, Japan, Korea, Germany, United Kingdom, France, Spain, Canada, Australia, Netherlands and Poland.
Taking into account the dynamics of the educational system and the indicators of global ratings it makes sense to add four more countries to a group of leaders: India and China, coming out at the forefront in terms of the number of university students, students growth dynamics and distance education development; Finland, leading in three ratings: the quality of secondary education PISA-2006, the accessibility and affordability of higher education (2nd place); Sweden - the leader in affordability of higher education.
The indicators characterizing the level of Tertiary Attainment of Population in the countries-leaders are shown in Fig. 1-3.
Fig.1. Ratio of 25-to-64-year-olds with tertiary education (level 5A/6) - 2005
Fig.2. Distribution of world students’ population by countries – 2006
Fig.3. Share of university students in population - 2006
Export of education reflects the current reputation of the national system of higher education on a global level. Eight countries from the selected group are about 70% of all mobile (foreign) students - Fig.4 (calculated according to the UNESCO data 2006). Another five countries in this group can be attributed to the relatively large host countries: China (1.3%), the Netherlands (1%), Korea (0.8%), Sweden (0,8%), Spain (0,7%).Only three countries (Poland, Finland and Korea) do not make a statistically significant contribution to the global number of mobile students.
Fig.4. Distribution of foreign students in host countries
Global ratings of educational opportunities, proposed by Canadian researchers1, are based on the separation of the concepts of accessibility of tertiary education and its affordability (ability for payment). Fig.5 shows the results of the authors’ project and an approximate estimate of Russia in these ratings.
Fig.5. The results of the global ratings on accessibility and and affordability of tertiary education
World university rankings not only assess the quality of higher education of any country, but also affect it globally. In two academic rankings - Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU)2 and World University Rankings of Times Higher Education Supplement3, covering 500 and 200 universities, respectively, the leading position among the top world universities belongs to the United States. The second place, as in the previous years, took the United Kingdom, followed by Japan and Germany; good positions are in Canada, the Netherlands, Australia and France. From a dedicated group of leaders Russia, India and Poland showed the most poor results.
Essentially different in respect of the methodology is a world university ranking based on the analysis of universities’ websites (Webometrics Ranking of World Universities) 4,5 It has a broad coverage of universities (5000 – 6000) that allows to evaluate the education system not only by separate universities-leaders, but as a whole, by all the body of educational institutions entering the system. Only 10 countries out of 191 have more than 100 universities among the top 5000 (fig.6).By this indicator characterizing the scale of the system, Russia as is evident, comes out on the advanced position. It is important that universities from all regions of the country are among the best Russian universities (Fig.7).
Fig.6. Ten leading countries by the number of universities among the top 5000 world universities
Fig.7. Distribution of the top 111 Russian Universities
in the federal districts.
Results of international research of school education quality PISA6 (Programme for International Student Assessment) considered in a context of higher education7, have shown the backlog of some countries that have so far been recognized leaders in education (USA, Russia, Spain, France, Germany). Consideration of the particularities of the differentiations in the quality of school education within the country reveals its "narrow" places and clearly demonstrates the need for greater openness and accessibility of education to the general population.
The level of development of distance education based on Information Communication Technologies (ICT) is closely connected with the problems of improving of all the indicators. Comparison of the level of development of distance education in the world countries, based on a quantitative estimation of activity scale of megauniversities8 (major universities with distance learning), shows the absolute leadership of developing countries and the special role of China and India (fig.8, 9). In the future this trend will grow.
Fig.8. Share of megauniversity students in total number of students in the world
Fig.9 Number of megauniversity students in the world countries (thousands)