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Education at a Glance 2008: new records and new challenges

On 9 September, the OECD launched the 2008 edition of its annual publication Education at a Glance, produced by the OECD’s Directorate for Education under the lead of Andreas Schleicher. The publication assesses the performance of education systems in the OECD’s 30 member states and some partner economies. The analysis is based on an elaborate system of indicators. These look at who participates in education, what is spent on it, how education systems operate and the results they achieve. The analysis is based on data mainly from 2005 and 2006 and covers school education, tertiary education as well as lifelong learning. This year, a special focus has been given to the issues of funding and quality standards in view to the increasing demand for higher education coupled up with decreasing financial resources. 

With regard to higher education, some of the key findings of the publication are:

  • 57 percent of school-leavers in OECD countries went on to university in 2006 – a huge increase of 20 percentage points compared to 1995. In some countries, such as Australia, Finland, Iceland, Poland and Sweden, three quarters of school-leavers continue their studies at a university.
  • Though the overall share of public budgets that is devoted to education has expanded, funding for tertiary education is barely keeping up with increased student numbers, or is falling (like in the case of Hungary, the Netherlands and Sweden). While public money still pays the bulk of the costs of tertiary education in most OECD countries, the role of private funding – which currently covers around one fourth of the total expenses - is growing.
  • In all OECD countries, earnings for people with higher education qualifications are higher than those of people who have completed only secondary school. In the majority of countries, the earnings advantage keeps rising regardless of the increased higher education attainment.
  • There are now over 2.9 million tertiary students enrolled outside their country of citizenship, an increase of more than 50 percent since 2000 and more than double the number in 1995. 

The full Education at a Glance report can be downloaded from the website of the OECD: