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Higher Education for a Highly Competitive World
December 2005


In this highly competitive global economy, a college education has never been more important.

  • About 80 percent of the fastest-growing jobs of the future will require some postsecondary education.
  • College graduates in the U.S. earn nearly twice as much as workers with just a high school diploma, one of the highest rates in the world (OECD).

But the rest of the world is catching up with the U.S., particularly in the scientific and technological fields.

  • "The scientific and technical building blocks of our economic leadership are eroding at a time when many other nations are gathering strength" — National Academies.
  • In 1970, the United States produced more than half of the world's science and engineering doctorates; by 2010, our share is projected to fall to 15 percent (Richard Freeman, Natl. Bureau of Economic Research).
  • Less than half of all high school graduates are prepared for college-level math and science (ACT).

Secretary Spellings has formed a Commission on the Future of Higher Education to ensure that our students are being equipped with the skills to succeed in the 21st century.

  • The Commission will focus on higher education's most vital issues—access, affordability, accountability and quality—with reforms led by colleges and universities themselves.
  • Made up of parents, university officials, business leaders, policymakers and scientific researchers, the Commission will conduct a national dialogue in states across the country.
  • The Commission will help parents and policymakers base their decisions on data, not assumptions.
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