La course des grands cerveaux

WASHINGTON – Depuis des décennies, les pôles de recherche universitaires américains sont universellement reconnus comme les leaders mondiaux en sciences et en ingénierie, insurpassées depuis la deuxième guerre mondiale en terme du volume et de l’excellence purs d’érudition et d’innovation qu’elles génèrent. Mais des signes évidents indiquent aujourd’hui que le reste du monde rattrape rapidement ce retard – construisant de nouvelles universités, modernisant les existantes, aux prises dans une concurrence fébrile pour attirer les meilleurs étudiants et recrutant des doctorants formés aux Etats-Unis pour qu’ils reviennent travailler dans les universités et les laboratoires industriels de leur pays d’origine. Cette hiérarchie académique serait-elle en train d’être renverséeamp#160;?

Il n’y aucun doute sur le fait que l’entreprise académique s’est considérablement globalisée, particulièrement en ce qui concerne le domaine scientifique. Près de trois millions d’étudiants poursuivent actuellement leurs études en dehors de leur pays d’origine – un chiffre en hausse de 57% depuis dix ans. Les étudiants étrangers constituent désormais la majorité de nombreux programmes de doctorats américains, représentant même 64% des doctorats en sciences de l’informatique. Les universités Tsinghua et Peking réunies ont récemment dépassé Berkeley en tant que plus importantes pourvoyeuses d’étudiants poursuivant un doctorat aux Etats-Unis.

Les enseignants eux aussi sont mobiles. La moitié des meilleurs physiciens mondiaux ne travaillent plus dans leur pays d’origine. Et d’importantes universités telles que l’Université de New York et l’Université de Nottingham créent des campus affiliés au Moyen-Orient et en Asie. Il existe aujourd’hui 162 campus satellites dans le monde, soit une augmentation de 43% en juste trois ans.

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