The next generation of intellectual leaders in Australia are emerging from an intellectual elite dominated by the US, the UK, and Canada, says a new report.
Australia is now the second largest country in the world with a population of 1.1 billion, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
Australia’s top academic leaders are also increasingly coming from the US and Canada.
The new generation of Australian leaders, led by Professor Kevin McGowan, are emerging to challenge the status quo of the ‘intelligent leaders’ in the country, writes the study, which is published by the Australian National University.
Professor McGowan is a professor of philosophy and political science at the University of Sydney.
“In Australia we have the greatest number of scientists and engineers in the OECD and the second-highest percentage of PhDs in the European Union, according a survey we commissioned last year, and we have a huge number of highly qualified young people, many of whom are academics, working in these fields,” Professor McGowan told the ABC’s 7.30 program.
This is a big change in Australian history, he said.
But Professor McGowen said it was not the only change.
Australian politics has changed a lot in the last 40 years, but it is a change that has not gone away.
And the rise of the new generation is changing our society, Professor McGoowan said.
“They are the intellectual leaders of their country, and they have become the intellectual power of their society,” he said of the rising number of academics in Australia.
“The result of that is that our intellectual culture, and our social culture, are changing.
These people are the future of Australia, and the future is what we are creating and how we are shaping the future for our future.”
Australia is also the world’s biggest exporter of foreign direct investment, according the OECD.
Its economy is forecast to grow at around 7 per cent this year, with the rise in technology sectors helping to boost that.
More than 40 per cent of Australia’s exports are to countries that are not part of the OECD, including the US.
Professors McGowan and David Farrar, of the University and College of New South Wales, said Australia needed to build a more diverse and globally competitive intellectual elite to support the growth of the economy.
“We need to recognise the role that we play in the global economy and in the life of our countries, and also in the lives of the people who work in those countries,” Professor Farrars said.
The Australian government has committed $1.6 billion over five years to help students and young people to study in universities in China and the US for three years.
Dr Farrart said it had been “incredibly challenging” to develop a global education and training model, but had now made significant progress.
It was a huge step forward, he added.
One of the main drivers of Australias success is its high levels of investment in research and development.
While the number of PhD graduates has risen steadily over the past 30 years, the amount of research and innovation it generated has not kept pace with demand.
According to the OECD’s latest report on global research and technological progress, global research spending in 2016-17 was $6.5 trillion, an increase of 10 per cent from 2015-16.
Over the same period, the number with PhDs grew by just 1.3 per cent.
In the United States, the growth in research spending was about 1.2 per cent, compared with about 5 per cent in the UK.
Research spending has also continued to grow rapidly in China, but that was driven by the country’s rapid economic growth.
China’s research spending rose by about 8 per cent last year.
There were about 2.5 million PhD graduates in Australia in 2017-18, according with the Department of Education.
That is a far cry from the 15 million PhDs that existed in Australia just five years ago.
Many of these people are working in the US or Canada, with about 10 per year of training in the USA, according research from the Centre for Strategic Research.
Some of these students are being trained in the fields of mathematics, engineering and computing.
Even more interesting, there are a number of Australian scientists and academics working at the highest levels of the technology sector, according Professor McGawen.
“There are a lot of Australians in the top positions of those industries and there are people in those industries that are working on things that are very exciting and very disruptive, and those people are getting involved in science and technology in Australia,” he told the program.
The report says there is a “broad divide” between academics in the Australian academic community and those in the United Kingdom, Canada and the United State.