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Perhaps, for the time being, American colleges (see Harvard, Princeton, Yale, etc.) are among the most desirable in the world, but there is some concern that this might not always be so and that perhaps this shouldn't be taken for granted.

Before Toyota started shipping automobiles to the United states in ever-increasing quantities, General Motors ruled. The American car was king in the U.S. and led all other auto companies world-wide for three quarters of a century. That began to change in the 80's and now it is not uncommon, even right here in the heartland of America, to see more Japanese cars on your morning commute than those manufactured in the United St. Could we have learned a lesson from Japan? Taken a page from their playbook maybe and avoided the enormous failure and subsequent government bailout of what was once the auto sales leader for 77 consecutive years? There are those who believe education is set on a similar trajectory. Here are five things we might want to consider:

  1. Building Human Capital While college costs continue to rise in the U.S. and it becomes more and more difficult for high school grads to attend college, China is making sure its young people have an opportunity to get a post-secondary education. Apparently they, along with other East Asian countries, see a strong connection between the education of its citizens and its burgeoning economy and are working to build human capital to ensure continued growth and success.
  2. Policy May Set Pace China is set to outpace the U.S. not just in college grads, but also in world-class universities. This is primarily due to the amount of importance they place on education and the funding they commit to seeing that it succeeds. If we are to have any hope of keeping up with China, India and Japan in the coming decades, we may want to consider a similar approach and learn from the success of these programs and their dedication to higher education.
  3. Beware Hubris It's probably not a good idea to assume that, because there presently are no Asian institutions listed among the top 20 worldwide, there won't soon be. According to Yale's president, Richard C. Levin, there is likely to be some change in the coming years, with National University of Singapore one of the schools likely to break into the top twenty.
  4. Eyes on Asia It might be a good idea to take a serious look at some of the programs the most successful schools in Asia have implemented and consider building some of our own in select institutions, for a start. Getting students involved in more global, real-life situations and positions earlier, for example, might be something we should be doing more of.
  5. If You Can't Beat 'Em OK, it may be a bit early to admit defeat and, if we step it up a bit, maybe concession won't be necessary, but working with Asian universities could be among the key steps we could take to improve the quality of the education we offer in the U.S.


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