Friday, June 02, 2017

Cornell University PhDs

I was at Cornell University to attend my youngest daughter’s graduation.  The Commencement Ceremony at the stadium began with the Procession, the entering of the faculty and the graduates.  The Doctors of Philosophy led the way, in their resplendent red and black gowns.  I read from the program that 700+ PhDs graduated this year, together with several hundred doctors of medicine, veterinary medicine, law, etc. That’s a very impressive amount of brain power. 


According to an OECD report, the USA produced 67,449 PhDs in 2014, more than twice as many as Germany (28,147) and United Kingdom (25,020).   That, to a large extent, is an indication of the scientific development of these countries.  

In contrast, all the universities in Hong Kong produce ~1,000 PhDs each year, with our own university contributing 200+.  That is a respectable number in comparison to other countries.  Until we realise that the majority of these PhDs produced in Hong Kong are probably from mainland China, and they are unlikely to stay and contribute to the scientific and economic development in Hong Kong.  The sad reality is that the society and the economy in Hong Kong is not in a position to take advantage of such brain power.  We invest tremendous resources to educate these young people, and allow them to contribute elsewhere.




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