Looking at the UK's educational performance through international data comparisons
- The OECD study evaluates barriers to learning in the working age population across 27 OECD and 2 non-OECD countries (Singapore and Russia).
- Each figure represents the proportion of the working-age population (25-64 year olds) who agreed that the statement represented a barrier to academic participation (e.g., expense, personal responsibilities).
- Overall, the time dedicated to working was the most popular reason for not entering a course across the sample.
- Other common causes for non-participation included expenses and individual responsibilities.
- Interestingly, the vast majority did not see their prior attainment as a barrier to qualification uptake.
- UK value is based on the average for England and Northern Ireland (and therefore is not representative of Scotland or Wales).
Reasons for non-participation in study in the working age (25-64 year-old) population across 29 countries.
- Figures represent the difference (%) in employment rates between foreign-born and native-born populations across OECD countries, using employment for the native-born population as the baseline category.
- Positive integers highlight that there is a higher employment rate in the native-born than foreign-born population.
- In the UK, there was less than a 2 percentage point gap between the proportion of the foreign-born and native-born population classified as (un)employed, as of 2019.
- On average, across OECD countries, the employment gap between members of the native and foreign-born population increases with higher levels of attainment (-1.3%, 6.5% and 10.8%, respectively).
- Therefore, whilst there is typically a higher proportion of the foreign-born than native-born population in employment across the low attainment bracket, the trend is reversed for groups demonstrating (above) average attainment.
- Added values of 0 reflect data gaps in the OECD database, excluding total employment differences for Ireland (employment rates were identical for the foreign and native-born population).
- Data gaps were excluded from calculations computing OECD averages.
Variations in employment by place of birth and attainment bracket across OECD countries.
- Across OECD countries, there is considerable variety in the subjects studied at tertiary/undergraduate degree level.
- Certain subjects were markedly more popular than others: Business (24.6%); Health (15.4%); Engineering (14.2%); Education (10%); Arts (9.7%) and Social Sciences (9.6%).
- The proportion of students in the UK studying subjects related to engineering, health, business and education was slightly below the OECD average.
- Comparatively, the proportion of qualifications in Social Sciences and the Arts was higher than the average across the listed OECD countries.
- However, it is important to note that the data may distort broader uptake patterns in specific field areas. For example, engineering and health-related professions can be pursued at Level 3 study and/or without an undergraduate qualification in the UK.
Graduates in individual fields of study as a proportion of total tertiary graduates by country in 2019.
- OECD study investigating the proportion (%) of young people who are NEET across OECD countries, as of 2021.
- In the UK, slightly under 3 in 20 (13.6%) of 20-24 year olds were not in any form of employment, education or training last year.
- This is 2 percentage points lower than the OECD average (15.8%).
- South Africa observed the highest (52%) and Netherlands the lowest (8%) proportion of 20-24 year olds identified as NEET.
20-24 year-olds identified as not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET) as a percentage of the total age group across OECD countries as of last year.
- In the UK, there is a 5 percentage point gender gap in the percentage of 16-54 year-olds who have completed tertiary education; 52% of women and 47% of men.
- Across 86% (37) of the 43 countries, more women than men have completed tertiary qualifications.
- Indonesia, Austria, Chile and Mexico are the countries with the most balanced representation of men and women with tertiary qualifications in the general population.
- Comparatively, Estonia and Latvia observed the largest gender imbalances; a 20 and 17 percent point gap, respectively.
Percentage of 25-64 year-olds who have completed tertiary education by gender as of 2020.
- The UK ranks 8th in the 2019 Statista Survey measuring the percentage of the national population progressing onto post-secondary qualifications.
- Costa Rica observed the lowest (17.6%) and Czech Republic the highest (69.5%) proportion of school leavers with secondary qualifications as their highest level of education in 2019.
- On average, 6 in 10 continued their studies after secondary school across OECD countries.
- This partly reflects the variation of compulsory school leavings ages and secondary school completion rates.
The percentage of the population with upper secondary qualifications as their highest level of education.
- The UK’s maths performance is significantly ahead of the average for OECD nations.
- In 2018, the UK’s score rose significantly. The UK was ranked 17th of the nations surveyed, up from 28th in 2015.
- Asian countries such as Singapore, Hong Kong, Korea and China’s main cities achieve the highest scores and rankings.
- Amongst Western countries, Estonia, Netherlands, Poland and Switzerland are among those with higher scores than the UK.
The OECD PISA Survey
- The UK was ranked 14th in science in 2018 and has held a similar position for the last decade.
- The UK, like many nations including Japan, Korea, Finland and Canada, has seen its score gently falling since 2012.
- Singapore has maintained the most consistent score.
- China has the highest score but based on research in Beijing, Shanghai, Jiangsu and Zhejiang only.
International Comparison of Science Skills at age 15
- The UK’s reading score has changed little since 2012.
- The UK’s score is similar to the United States, Australia and New Zealand.
- In 2018 the highest scores are achieved by Asian countries – Singapore, Hong Kong and China’s main cities.
- Amongst western countries, Estonia, Finland, Canada and Ireland achieve the highest scores.
International Comparison of Reading Skills at age 15