On 12 September, the OECD’s Directorate for Education and Skills issued the Education at a Glance 2023 report. The report has a broad focus on several education-related themes, ranging from early childhood to adult education. The set of indicators relevant to higher education covers a broad range of areas, such as the impact of the ongoing Ukrainian-Russia conflict, international student flows in OECD countries and emerging differences across countries in access to and graduation from different forms of post-secondary education.
Some of the key highlights are the following:
- The population of refugees from Ukraine are highly educated and many have had their higher education degrees disrupted. Overall, 76% of women and 71% of men who have fled Ukraine since 2022 have completed higher education qualifications of BA/BSc and above, and 5.9% of women and 8% of men have reported having incomplete higher education. This has led to new demand for access to tertiary education and a new set of challenges as well as measures for host countries and their higher education institutions 2023 OECD Survey on Ensuring Continued Learning of Ukrainian Refugee Students;
- Women make up a small but clear majority of those starting tertiary education across OECD countries, at 55% of all new entrants. Notably, there is no longer a single OECD country where women are not in the majority among first-time entrants to tertiary education;
- The COVID-19 pandemic had a very uneven impact on international student flows across countries during the period 2019-2021, but overall, between 2019 and 2021 mobile student shares remained stable across the OECD countries;
- International mobility of tertiary students increases with levels of education. On average across the OECD, just 6% of new entrants into short-cycle tertiary programmes and 8% of new entrants into bachelor’s programmes are internationally mobile. This share increases to 19% in master’s programmes and 31% in doctoral programmes;
- The distribution of students by field of study differs between mobile and non-mobile students. Generally, internationally mobile students are more likely to enrol in STEM-related fields than national students. Across the OECD, 32% of mobile students chose a STEM subject, compared to 24% of national students;
- European students comprise 22% of all mobile students in the OECD, with significant numbers in Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Slovakia, and Slovenia. In most countries, student mobility occurs within the same region: 20% of international students come from neighbouring countries.
For full methodology and analysis of international mobility flows in higher education and other levels of education in OECD countries see the full report.