Archive for January, 2009

Education at a Glance 2008 – OECD Indicators

January 1, 2009

Extracts from the Editorial

by Barbara Ischinger, Director for Education,

with facts based on OECD Analytical Data Base, January 2008:


OECD governments have high ambitions for their education systems, wanting them to grow both in volume and quality. Yet public budgets face tight constraints, and education remains predominantly a public enterprise. So, has education funding been able to meet the extra demands being placed on it, and will it be able to do so in the future?


In volume terms, the decades-old expansion in educational participation and outputs continues – and at a pace that outstrips many past projections. With completion of upper secondary education close to universal in most OECD countries, the greatest recent expansion has come in the tertiary sector.


While in 1995,37 pct. of a cohort went into university-level programmes, it is now 57 pct. on average across OECD countries. Will the expansion of tertiary education continue at this rapid pace, driven by an ever rising demand for the highly skilled? Or will it level off, and will relative earnings decline?


What is clear is that, for now, the incentives for attaining a tertiary qualification remain strong, both in terms of higher salaries and better employment prospects. In addition, the labour market demand for highly quailed workers has grown significantly.


However, great differences are detected, and thus to be handled in due course:


Observed from a Danish viewpoint, and based on the balance between expenditures versus income, Denmark is the single country in the OECD with the smallest personal net advantage from a tertiary education. Thus, the yield in Demark is calculated to be 4.4 pct. compared to 29.1 pct. in the Czech Republic. These differences are levelled off by the increased employment possibilities for senior persons with tertiary education.


The financing structure of tertiary education also differs substantially. Together with Greece and Finland, Denmark belongs to the OECD countries with the smallest private funding of university education – although Denmark, together with Israel and Korea belongs to the OECD countries with the largest public financing of the education sector at large.


Internationalisation of tertiary education is in continued growth – by volume as well as by importance. From 1975 to 2006 the number of international students have increased from 600,000 to 2,920,000 with the major flow towards English speaking areas – USA (25.3 pct.) and UK (16.1 pct.) followed by Germany (12.7 pct.). In comparison Denmark attracts 4.9 pct. international students. The OECD average constitutes 7.3 pct.


For further documentation, please check:


Povl Tiedemann

January 2009