The analysis, part of the OECD’s Education Indicators in Focus series, says that in 2010 China’s share of the pool was 18 per cent, but by 2020 it will have grown to 29 per cent.
By contrast, just over a quarter of 25- to 34-year-olds with tertiary educations will hail from the US or the European Union, according to the projections.
“By 2020, China aims for 20 per cent of its citizens – or 195 million people – to have higher education degrees,” the report says.
It adds that if this goal is realised, the country will have a graduate population that is roughly equal in size to the projected total number of 25- to 64-year-olds in the US.
India’s share of graduates will rise only slightly from 2010 to 2020 (from 11 to 12 per cent), while the US’ proportion will fall from 14 to 11 per cent, the report states.
The UK’s share should increase from 3 to 4 per cent, it predicts, but it foresees significant declines for Japan (7 to 4 per cent) and the Russian Federation (11 to 7 per cent).
Six per cent of young graduates will hail from Indonesia, the report says.
The growth of the “knowledge economy” will absorb the growing pool of graduates, according to the report.
It cites a “consistently upward trend” in the proportion of science and technology occupations, which indicates that the “demand for employees in this knowledge economy sector has not reached its ceiling”.