Lessons in Willfully Destroying Competitive Advantage
China is the most famous case, having in ten years more than tripled the number of college graduates from 9 million to 30 million. Since 1991, Singapore has added four universities to its previous two, and by 2020 will have a higher bachelors degree proportion than the US. Indonesia has 30 public universities, and 2000 new private universities. The Philippines has 500 public universities and 1500 new privates. Vietnam has gone from 150 universities in 2000 to over 400 today, with 20 percent of those being private.
The scale refutes the number one economic premise of American MOOC development, which is that even rich countries can’t afford great public universities anymore, so medium- and low-income countries shouldn’t try. In the North American mythology, less “developed” countries must teach their teeming masses on line, with low-cost American MOOC services endorsed by MIT, Stanford, Harvard, and Penn. And yet Asian countries are ignoring this Western wisdom. They have rejected its “build nothing” implications.