UK now ranked fifth on HE participation, says OECD

The UK is ranked fifth among the world’s most developed nations for the number of young people with higher education, after rapid progress since 2000

January 19, 2015

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development today publishes data on educational attainment and employment rates, in an interim update of its annual Education at a Glance publication.

“Across the OECD, tertiary educated adults have the best outcomes in the labour market. On average, 83 per cent of all tertiary educated adults were employed and 5.3 per cent were unemployed,” says the report, titled Education at a Glance Interim Report: Update of Employment and Educational Attainment Indicators.

The UK has made rapid progress in tertiary education participation for young people aged 25 to 34 between 2000 and 2013, the report finds.

The UK was ranked 16th out of 33 nations in 2000, with around 29 per cent of young people having tertiary education, but by 2013 had risen to fifth, with about 48 per cent of young people having tertiary education.

“In Australia, Estonia, Ireland, Israel, Latvia, Luxembourg, Norway, Poland, Sweden and the United Kingdom, at least one in two young women (25-34-year-olds) has a tertiary education, and in Canada, Japan, Korea and the Russian Federation more than 60 per cent have a tertiary education,” the OECD says.

Only South Korea, Japan, Canada and the Republic of Ireland have higher tertiary participation than the UK among OECD nations.

The OECD gives the UK an employment rate of 85 per cent for adults with tertiary education, putting it 16th on that score.

More generally, the report finds that “higher education opportunities have expanded across OECD education systems in recent years. More and more individuals have completed higher levels of education. The human capital stock in OECD countries has constantly been growing since 2000 and has reached new peaks every year.”

But it adds that “unemployment rates can still be quite high among younger adults with a tertiary qualification in some countries such as Greece (33.1 per cent), Italy (16.0 per cent), Portugal (18.4 per cent), Slovenia (10.8 per cent), Spain (20.8 per cent) and Turkey (11.1 per cent)”.

john.morgan@tesglobal.com

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