Iran, China Top Research List

Iran, China Top Research ListIran, China Top Research List

This is a dynamic time in higher education, especially in Asia. Across the world, in all middle-income and high-income nations, both elite higher education and mass higher education are moving to a more central role.

Since the late 1990s, worldwide participation in universities and colleges has grown at an accelerating rate. Mass higher education now extends also to low-income countries – in one quarter of all nations with a per capita GDP of less than $500, the rate of enrolment now exceeds 15%, says an article by Prof. Simon Marginson, director of the Centre for Global Higher Education at the UCL Institute of Education in London, on

Scientific output is growing very rapidly on an annual basis in BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) and other emerging economies, more quickly than in any university system in the past, including the United States. In these systems, enrolments at tertiary level are also growing rapidly.

Four of these countries are in East and Southeast Asia, Singapore (annual growth rate of science papers 9%), Malaysia (11.5%), Thailand (12.7%) and China (15.4%). The fastest growth of research is in Iran (23.5%), which is represented in the Association of Southeast Asian Institutions of Higher Learning or ASAIHL.

Singapore’s achievement in all areas is extraordinary. It is hard to find a university anywhere in the world with a more effective global strategy and developmental trajectory than the National University of Singapore. Combined research and development investment now exceeds North America.

It is not always realized at world level that Iran, a large nation with a long civilizational tradition, has made considerable progress in the last two decades in higher education and science. Iran now has two ARWU (Academic Ranking of World Universities) world top 500 universities.

In many countries, the pace of growth of higher education accelerated at much the same time, in the second half of the 1990s. It became a higher priority in the economy, policy and society.

Rapid growth has extended to all regions except Central Asia. Even in Sub-Saharan Africa, Pakistan and Bangladesh, where participation remains low, it is increasing quickly from its low base.

At world level the Gross Tertiary Enrolment Ratio is now increasing at 1% a year. One third of the school dropout age group now enrolls. In another generation half of all people will enter tertiary education and a third will gain a degree. Less than 15 years ago, only half of all people had mobile phones. Higher education could become as commonplace as mobile phones are right now.

There are 50 countries around the world with the broad capacity to produce their own science. Most, though not all, have GDP per head at $20,000 and more.