Marketplace Realities:
World Participation in
Postsecondary Education
Companies in the e-learning market doing business in
the U.S. can rely on general industry homogeneity, known
regulations and standards, reliable demographics and eco-
nomic data, and reliable infrastructures. This is not the case
outside the U.S. As Nagi Sioufi, CEO of the French language
training software firm Auralog, put it, “There is not one
international education market. There is an accumulation
of local markets.”
10
Entry into the global marketplace
requires local knowledge, local partners, and focused mar-
ket research.
Making a truly global education marketplace a reality,
not just in developed countries, will take many years.
Achieving even universal primary education worldwide, an
obvious precondition for a postsecondary industry, will
prove to be an enormous challenge, even with combined
private and public investments. UNESCO Assistant
Director-General John Daniel, the former Vice-Chancellor
of Britain’s Open University, recently estimated that 15 mil-
lion more teachers are needed to achieve universal basic
education by 2015, a goal pledged by more than 180 gov-
ernments. Getting to the point of a global marketplace of
people prepared for Internet-enabled, postsecondary educa-
tion will take decades for many nations to accomplish.
The Wired Tower
76
Before considering the market potential, we need reli-
able data for understanding the size of the postsecondary
global marketplace based on the number of people actually
prepared for these services. What does the current market-
place look like demographically? Table 4–1 shows the major
demographics on world participation in postsecondary (ter-
tiary) education. Computer and Internet-enabled education
Chapter 4 The Emerging Global E-Education Industry
77
TABLE 4–1 World Participation in Postsecondary Education
(Enrollment and Gross Enrollment Ratios in Tertiary Education, 1997)
1997 Enrollment 1997 Gross
(in Millions) Enrollment Ratio
M/F* F* %F* M/F M F
World Total 88.2 41.3 47.0 17.4 18.1 16.7
More developed regions 34.2 17.9 52.0 61.1 56.8 65.6
Northern America 16.0 8.9 55.0 80.7 70.8 91.0
Asia/Oceania 5.5 2.5 46.0 42.1 43.3 40.9
Europe 12.7 6.5 52.0 50.7 47.9 53.6
Countries in transition 11.0 6.0 54.0 34.0 30.6 37.6
Less developed regions 43.0 17.4 40.0 10.3 12.0 8.5
Sub-Saharan Africa 2.2 0.8 35.0 3.9 5.1 2.8
Arab states 3.9 1.6 41.0 14.9 17.3 12.4
Latin America/Caribbean 9.4 4.5 48.0 19.4 20.1 18.7
Eastern Asia/Oceania 16.8 6.8 41.0 10.8 12.5 9.0
China 6.1 2.0 33.0 6.1 7.8 4.2
Southern Asia 9.3 3.2 34.0 7.2 9.1 5.1
India 6.4 2.3 36.0 7.2 8.8 5.5
Least developed countries 1.9 0.5 27.0 3.2 4.6 1.7
Source: UNESCO World Education Report, 2000.
11
Gross education data rep-
resents all levels of enrollment, including students beyond the traditional age
group, and partly measures education system capacity. Gross ratios may
exceed 100 percent.
*M/F Male/Female; F Female; %F Female Percentage

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