Education at a Glance 2015
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Education at a Glance 2015

OECD Indicators

Education at a Glance: OECD Indicators is the authoritative source for accurate information on the state of education around the world. It provides data on the output of educational institutions; the impact of learning across countries; the financial and human resources invested in education; access, participation and progression in education; and the learning environment and organisation of schools.

The 2015 edition introduces more detailed analysis of participation in early childhood and tertiary levels of education. The report also examines first generation tertiary-educated adults’ educational and social mobility, labour market outcomes for recent graduates, and participation in employer-sponsored formal and/or non-formal education. Readiness to use information and communication technology for problem solving in teaching and learning is also examined. The publication provides indicators on the impact of skills on employment and earnings, gender differences in education and employment, and teacher and school leader appraisal systems. For the first time, this edition includes highlights of each indicator inside the book. The report covers all 34 OECD countries and a number of partner countries (Argentina, Brazil, China, Colombia, India, Indonesia, Latvia, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia and South Africa, and for the first time, Costa Rica and Lithuania).

The Excel™ spreadsheets used to create the tables and charts in Education at a Glance are available via the StatLinks provided throughout the publication.

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Indicator C3 How Many Students are Expected to Enter Tertiary Education? You do not have access to this content

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Indicator C3 shows entry rates into tertiary education, including bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral and short-cycle programmes. The indicator also provides entry rates for entrants younger than the typical age and excluding international students. It also shows the profiles of entrants into tertiary education by age, gender and field of study.

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Chapter Highlights

  • Some 57% of young adults in OECD countries are expected to enter a bachelor’s degree or equivalent programme over their lifetime, and 22% are expected to enter a master’s degree or equivalent programme over their lifetime.

  • In all OECD countries except Korea, the most popular fields of education chosen by new entrants into tertiary programmes are social sciences, business and law.

  • On average across OECD countries, 54% of new entrants into tertiary education are women, and 82% are under the age of 25. Some 13% of all entrants are international students.

Chart C3.1. First-time tertiary entry rates (2013)

Note: Mismatches between the coverage of the population data and the new-entrants data mean that the entry rates for those countries that are net exporters of students may be underestimated and those that are net importers may be overestimated. The adjusted entry rates seek to compensate for that. Please refer to Annex 3 for further specific information by country.

1. Year of reference 2012.

Countries are ranked in descending order of entry rate at tertiary level.

Source: OECD. Table C3.1. See Annex 3 for notes (

ContextExpand / Collapse

Entry rates estimate the proportion of people who are expected to enter a specific type of tertiary education programme during their lifetime. They provide some indication of the accessibility of tertiary education, the perceived value of attending tertiary programmes, and the degree to which a population is acquiring the high-level skills and knowledge that can create and fuel knowledge-based economies. High entry and enrolment rates in tertiary education imply that a highly educated labour force is being developed and maintained.

In OECD countries, the belief that skills acquired through higher education are valued more than those held by people with lower educational attainment stems from the perception, both real and feared, that routine jobs can be mechanised or performed in low-wage countries. There is also a common understanding that knowledge and innovation are key to sustaining economic growth. Tertiary institutions not only have to meet growing demand by expanding the number of places they offer, they also have to adapt their programmes and teaching methods to match the diverse needs of a new generation of students.

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  • At least one in 25 students in Austria, Germany, Switzerland and the United Kingdom is expected to enter a doctoral programme over their lifetime, but fewer than one in 200 students in Chile, China, Colombia, Indonesia, Mexico and Saudi Arabia is expected to do so.

  • Based on current patterns, it is estimated that an average of 18% of today’s young adults in OECD countries will enter a short tertiary programme over their lifetime, and 57% will enter a bachelor’s degree or equivalent programme.

  • In Austria, Luxembourg and New Zealand, more than one in five entrants into a bachelor’s programme are international students, well above the OECD average of 9%.

  • On average, 23% of students entering master’s-level tertiary education do so as part of a long first-degree programme; in Sweden, more than 90% of these students do.

NoteExpand / Collapse

Entry rates represent the percentage of an age cohort that is expected to enter a tertiary programme over a lifetime. This estimate is based on the number of new entrants in 2013 and the age distribution of this group. Therefore, the entry rates are based on a synthetic cohort assumption, according to which the current pattern of entry constitutes the best estimate of the behaviour of today’s young adults over their lifetime.

Entry rates are sensitive to changes in the education system, such as the introduction of new programmes. For example, during the implementation of the Bologna Process, some students in European countries stayed for longer than expected in tertiary education, while others postponed their entrance to be given a degree adaptable to the new classification. Entry rates can be very high, and even greater than 100% (thus clearly indicating that the synthetic cohort assumption is implausible), during a period when there is an unexpectedly high number of entrants.

In some countries, high entry rates may reflect a temporary phenomenon – namely the effects of economic cycles and crises, when prospective students align their expectations to the realities of the job market, or government incentives. Second-chance programmes, through which the government encourages older students to re-join education, can also boost entry rates.

A surge in the number of international students can temporarily inflate entry rates. The percentage of expected new entrants into tertiary programmes changes dramatically when international students are excluded from the calculation. Together with older students, international students are a significant share of the total student population in some countries, and their numbers can artificially inflate the proportion of today’s young adults who are expected to enter a tertiary programme. When international and older students are not counted, some countries are notable for their high tertiary entry rates.

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