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The authoritative annual publication on the state of education around the world is out. On 9 September, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) released the 2014 edition of its Education at a Glance, featuring data on the structure, finances and performance of education systems in the OECD’s 34 member countries – of which 21 are European Union member states. The report includes as well a number of OECD partner countries like Argentina, Brazil, China, Colombia, India, Indonesia, Latvia, Russia, Saudi Arabia and South Africa.
The findings confirm the trend of growth in international mobility: the number of foreign tertiary students enrolled worldwide more than doubled since 2000, with an average annual growth rate of 7%. 2012 (reference year for the report) has seen more than 4.5 million students enrolled in tertiary education outside their country of citizenship, corresponding to 8% of the total tertiary enrolments. Europe is confirmed driving the chart of international mobility: the EU countries alone retain almost half of all international students (more than 2 million) with perspectives of further expansion, since the current amount is only 25% of the EU target. The United States accommodates a large but declining share of the market while Australia, China and the Russian Federation are, on the contrary, growing. Student enrolment in small countries such as South Korea and New Zealand almost tripled since 2000. Other regions such as Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean are also emerging as new players in the international education market.
At the same time, less promising news is coming from the side of educational mobility, experiencing cases of downward mobility, meaning that there are increasing percentages of adults aged 24-64 whose education level is inferior to that of their parents. Also, many industrialised countries are experiencing a slowdown in upper mobility, as it is the case for the US, Germany, Sweden and the UK. Considering that the data of the same report show that tertiary-educated people are likely to earn twice as much as a person without upper secondary education, these mobility education trends can be translated in an increase of the socio-economic divisions between teriary-educated adults and the rest of the society.