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Where Is the Next Generation of IT and Data Geniuses?

The United States currently hosts the top institutions for higher education in technology and engineering. However, institutions such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of California Berkley, and the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) do not exclusively teach an American student population. Trends in international student mobility and immigration laws have a substantial impact on which nation will have future technology leaders.

Student Visa Policies, Languages, and Impact on Global Higher Education

International students often find universities in the United States attractive due to immigration laws. It is substantially easier to acquire a student visa in the United States than the United Kingdom, Australia, or Canada. Additionally, English has arguably become the international language for technology and engineering. Industries with large amounts of jargon typically adopt a single language for practical purposes. For example, the technology and engineering industry in the 19th century adopted German as its common language. Prior to that, Latin was the chosen “global” language for the industries.

Failure and Success of Technology Education in Different Nations

Academic concerns regarding technology programs are almost always highly subjective. The field moves at an extraordinarily fast pace in comparison to other industries. Higher-level education needs to be built on a solid foundation. Students need to be able to master basic concepts before they can fully understand abstract theory.

Teaching Young Students Advanced Concepts in China

In one approach, students are taught how to follow complex sequential instructions and memorize new material quickly and early on. Long-term studies suggest students who learn by this model have extreme difficulty understanding abstract concepts, which is a hallmark of the current technology industry. Currently, almost any technology program over a few years in length will have most specific subjects taught become obsolete by the time students graduate. Abstract thinking skills demonstrate the difference between success and failure in future technology careers.

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Recent research also raises concerns regarding the fast pace which Chinese students learn math and science. Students learn how to ace advanced math tests at young ages, but they are not given a chance to fully develop abstract thinking skills. Additionally, ample anecdotal evidence from Chinese students studying technology and engineering in the United States also suggests curriculum hallmarked by the development of abstract thinking skills compared to “plug and chug” teaching method is more challenging.

China is also notorious for strict regulations, and regulations make global commerce in China difficult, especially in the technology sector. Top institutions such as the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology might not have the global buy-in for sustainable advancement.

Abstract Thinking Skills in the United States

The future of global technology is greater than learning basic coding and mathematical principles, and teaching programs need to focus on abstract thinking and problem solving after students master basic principles. The technology industry changes quickly, and developing cognitive abilities such as memorization coupled and processing speed is not as important as developing nonverbal and verbal intelligence. One large misconception is that verbal reasoning skills are not important in technology. Strong verbal abilities give students the tools needed to participate in a dynamic industry, beyond completing basic production work.

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Challenging Immigration Laws in the United States and Global Mobility

Graduation is often bittersweet for international students. Whereas acquiring a student visa in the United States is relatively easy, acquiring permanent residency and the legal ability to work in the country is extraordinarily difficult. Immigration laws further promote global mobility, and the laws contribute to a breakdown in the entire higher education system.

According to data published by NAFSA, international students contributed $24 billion to the United States economy and supported 313,000 jobs in the United States. However, the best and brightest international students are often forced to return to their countries of origin. Immigration policies for international students can be confusing at best for all stakeholders.

One important point to note is students that choose to study at top technology universities in the United States often do not work in the United States, which makes it difficult to determine which nation will have future technology leaders and an edge in overall innovation.

Nations Hallmarked by Technology and Technology Education

Numerous Asian countries have a strong cultural focus on technology education. However, nations such as Japan and Singapore do not have the ability to absorb a large international student body. Top schools including the National University of Singapore and the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) have demonstrated success in teaching students. Additionally, South Korea is heavily invested in research used in the private sector as well as academia.

The strong cultural emphasis on technology provides an ideal atmosphere for domestic students who are able to act as future leaders in their respective countries. Additionally, the cultural emphasis on academics and research easily translates to high positions in the future global marketplace. Revenue from the private sector could be integral to the future of Asian countries that participate in global commerce, unlike China.

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The Current Leader in Training the Next Generation of Digital Workers

The United States is the current leader in providing higher education for the next generation of workers in the technology industry. It has kept up with two integral aspects of higher education. First, the United States has the capacity to attract top-tier professors and house a diverse student body. Second, the United States has immigration policies that make it easy for students to acquire necessary student immigration visas. However, the United States does not follow up on immigration policy after top students graduate.

Key Takeaways

  • The United States has an expansive network of top universities with excellent technology-based programs, which can easily accommodate a global student body.
  • Numerous international students choose to study in the United States due to easy acquisition of student visas compared to other nations such as Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom.
  • Teaching programs in China fall short due to a lack of focus on abstract thinking skills and problem solving skills.
  • Smaller Asian nations such as South Korea and Japan do not have the ability to accommodate a large student body.
  • Although numerous international students choose to study in the United States, many are forced to return to their respective countries of origin due to immigration laws.

Top image ©GL Stock Images

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