Australia has significantly improved its standing amongst the highest educated nations in the world after results published by the OECD show that 35 per cent of 25 – 34 year olds hold a degree.


The findings put Australia seventh on the list of OECD nations in bachelors’ attainment at that age group after the country experienced  a six point growth from 2006.


However, the report also shows a contraction in educator salary, which by and large has expanded significantly in OECD countries. The report also found that spending on education was comparatively low, recording an increase of only 1.5 per cent, which is well below the average of comparable nations.


Income for tertiary education institutions sourced an increasing share of their revenue from private contributors, such as students,increased exponentially in the 2006 - 2010 period. 


“The proportion of expenditure on tertiary institutions covered by individuals, businesses and other private sources, including subsidised private payments ranged from less than 5 per cent in Denmark, Finland and Norway to more than 40 per cent in Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, the UK and US,” the report found.


The key findings of Education at a Glance 2010 are:


Education spending

  • OECD countries spent 6.1% of their GDP on education in 2008. Between 2000 and 2008, expenditure increased at a faster rate than GDP in 25 of the 32 countries for which data are available
  • Expenditure per student by tertiary educational institutions. increased 14 percentage points on average in OECD countries from 2000 to 2008. Spending per tertiary student fell in 7 of the 30 countries with available data as expenditure did not keep up with expanding enrolments. The share of private funding at tertiary level increased in 20 of the 26 countries for which comparable data are available between 2000 and 2008. The share increased by six percentage points, on average, and by more than fifteen percentage points in Portugal, the Slovak Republic and the United Kingdom
  • Spending on teachers’ salaries in 2009 accounted for an average 63% of current expenditure on primary, secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary education combined in OECD countries. Between 2000 and 2009, teachers’ salaries increased in real terms in most countries. The largest increases – of well over 50% – were seen in the Czech Republic, Estonia and Turkey. The only exceptions to this trend were Australia, France, Japan and Switzerland where salaries declined.


International students


  • Over the past three decades, the number of international students has risen dramatically, from 800, 000 worldwide in 1975 to 3.7 million in 2009.  Australia, the UK, Austria, Switzerland and New Zealand have the highest percentage of international students at tertiary level.
  • China contributes 18.2% of all international students from non-OECD countries enrolled in the OECD area (not including an additional 1.3% from Hong Kong, China).

Gender equality

  • Young women are now more likely than men to finish upper secondary education in every OECD country except for Germany and Switzerland.
  • Women make up the majority of students and graduates in almost all OECD countries and largely dominate in the fields of education, health and welfare, and humanities and arts. Men dominate in engineering, manufacturing and construction.

The full report can be found here