Science education spending in the U.S. flattens
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Educating people in science and engineering leads to growth in research and technology that, in turn, leads to jobs in manufacturing the devices that those people invent.
That pattern has spurred concern over results of a study from the National Science Foundation released Tuesday that showed trends in education, research and development, and manufacturing are flat or heading down in the United States but rising in China and eight other Asian countries.
Over the past decade, according to the report, the U.S. lost 28 percent (687,000) of its high-tech manufacturing jobs.
"While the U.S. remains a leader in high technology manufacturing, its lead is shrinking," said Jose-Marie Griffiths, chairman of the Science and Engineering Indicators Committee at the National Science Board, a policymaking group of the foundation.
China now leads the world in the number of bachelor's degrees in engineering granted.
While colleges and universities in the United States awarded 4 percent of the world's bachelor's degrees in engineering based on information from 2008 or the latest year available from each of the countries, China educated 34 percent with the European Union granting 17 percent and what the authors call the Asia-8 countries -- India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand -- minting another 17 percent of the graduates.
But the news was even worse because, while Chinese universities granted 26,000 doctorates in 2008 in natural sciences and engineering, universities in the United States awarded 24,700 doctorates in those fields in 2009. And of the students awarded doctorates here, 10,900, or 44 percent, were temporary visa holders with more than half from China, India and South Korea.
Spending on research and development also showed alarming trends.
While the U.S. still spends more than any other country, spending here remained flat in 2008 and 2009 at about $400 billion while research and development spending in the 10 Asian countries of China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand doubled from $200 billion in 2002 to nearly match U.S. spending in 2009.
Ms. Griffiths, who is also vice president of academic affairs at Bryant University in Smithfield, R.I., said the trends showing other regions growing while the United States numbers are flat or falling "give us some cause for concern."
First Published January 18, 2012 12:00 am