Best Path To Growth?

Career College Central summary:

  • Since the 1980s, development economists have argued that investing in primary rather than higher education is the best way to lift countries out of poverty. But a study has found that higher education has a greater impact on a country’s economy than previously thought, and so builds the case for devoting more international aid to universities.
  • In research commissioned by the British Department for International Development, three academics from the Institute of Education, University of London, collated the results of nearly 100 papers on postsecondary education's impact on developing economies.
  • Rebecca Schendel, a lecturer in education and international development at the institute, explained that the literature review found that tertiary education had a “strong” positive impact on economic growth, which was a “change from what had previously been assumed."
  • Some of the studies she and her colleagues analyzed even suggested that higher education did more to boost the economy than lower levels of schooling, she added. “For decades there was limited funding for higher education in low-income [country] contexts,” she told delegates at the annual conference of the Society for Research into Higher Education, in Newport, South Wales. This, she said, was because economic studies in the 1980s argued that it was “more important to build up lower levels [of education] rather than fund higher education.”
  • The study presents evidence that university study improved graduates’ health, increased their participation in politics and empowered women – “although in some cases it was clear that tertiary education was not sufficient to overcome barriers in society, particularly in terms of women’s empowerment,” Schendel cautioned at the conference.

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