Education at a Glance 2017
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Education at a Glance 2017

OECD Indicators

Education at a Glance: OECD Indicators is the authoritative source for information on the state of education around the world. With more than 125 charts and 145 tables included in the publication and much more data available on the educational database, Education at a Glance 2017 provides key information 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 2017 edition presents a new focus on fields of study, investigating both trends in enrolment at upper secondary and tertiary level, student mobility, and labour market outcomes of the qualifications obtained in these fields. The publication also introduces for the first time a full chapter dedicated to the Sustainable Development Goals, providing an assessment of where OECD and partner countries stand on their way to meeting the SDG targets. Finally, two new indicators are developed and analysed in the context of participation and progress in education: an indicator on the completion rate of upper secondary students and an indicator on admission processes to higher education.

The report covers all 35 OECD countries and a number of partner countries (Argentina, Brazil, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, India, Indonesia, Lithuania, the Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia and South Africa).

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 D6 What are the national criteria for students to apply to and enter into tertiary education? You do not have access to this content

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Indicator D6 highlights differences in the admission systems for students to apply and enter into tertiary education. In particular, it analyses differences between open and systems admission systems, the qualification and performance requirements to enter first-degree tertiary programmes, and specific policies in admission processes that impact participation.


Chapter Highlights

  • More than half of countries and economies with available data have open admissions systems (meaning all applicants with the minimum qualification level required are admitted) to at least some public and/or private institutions. Access to certain fields of study and/or institutions can still be based on some selection criteria within these countries.

  • National/central examinations, taken towards the end of upper secondary education, and entrance examinations administered by tertiary institutions, are the most widely used examinations/tests for entry into first-degree tertiary programmes.

  • Factors other than the results of national/central examinations are also taken into account by selective institutions in most countries, although used to differing extents. The criteria most used for admission to public tertiary institutions include grade point averages, candidate interviews and work experience.

Figure D6.1. Use of limits on number of students entering fields of study and institutions within countries with open and selective systems (2017)

How to read this figure

First-degree tertiary programmes within countries with open admissions systems can still be subject to limitations on the number of places available, either by field of study or institution. These limits may affect all fields of study or types of institutions, only some, or none at all. Similarly, for countries with selective systems, limits may be set with reference to field of study and/or institutions. As such, a country with a selective system may still report no limits (none) for one of these dimensions.

1. Open = open admissions systems exist.

2. Selective = only selective admissions systems exist.

Note: Of the 38 countries that participated in the survey, this figure does not include those for which the information is missing or not applicable.

Source: OECD (2017), Table D6.1. See Source section for more information and Annex 3 for notes (


ContextExpand / Collapse

An increasing number of students are enrolling in tertiary education across OECD countries. This expansion in enrolment reflects a variety of factors. First, an increasing number of students are achieving the minimum educational attainment required to enter tertiary institutions, which in turn increases the potential demand for tertiary education (see Indicator A2). At the same time, in the context of high unemployment rates and the economic crisis, the positive relationship between educational attainment levels and opportunities in the labour market may result in even greater demand: individuals with a secondary qualification wish to continue their studies, attracted by the high financial incentives to invest in education (see Indicators A6 and A7).

Tertiary enrolment is also affected by the number of places available within tertiary institutions. Given the rising demand for tertiary education, educational institutions and policy makers face new challenges to ensure enough student places. In the meantime, increased demand could result in increased competition between students wishing to enter tertiary education. In some countries decisions on the number of positions available in the different fields of tertiary education are more strongly linked to the needs of the labour market. This matching of skills of tertiary-educated people to meet labour market demand may have an impact on enrolments and the selectivity of the different fields of tertiary education.

The analysis of national criteria and admission systems for students to apply and enter first-degree tertiary programmes highlights differences across countries, specifically between open and selective admission systems.

Other findingsExpand / Collapse

  • Funding systems for first-degree tertiary programmes are largely reliant on a mixture of central allocation (government funding) and market distribution (tuition fees). Only one-third of countries and economies with available data have public tertiary institutions that are financed only by central allocation of public funds.

  • In about half of countries and economies with available information, the government sets the minimum academic performance requirements for entry into tertiary education (first-degree), on top of the usual qualification requirements. These performance requirements are most often based on secondary school certificate/report cards, including students’ grades or results of upper secondary national/central examinations.

  • In around two-thirds of the countries and economies with available data, national/central examinations, other standardised tests at upper secondary level and/or entrance examinations to tertiary institutions are compulsory requirements to enter at least some fields of study in public tertiary institutions.

  • Students are required to apply directly to public tertiary institutions in nearly half the countries and economies, while roughly an equal number of countries use a centralised system or combination of both approaches for admission to public institutions. Applications to private tertiary institutions are less frequently processed through a centralised application system.

  • Application and admission systems to first-degree tertiary programmes are similar for national and non-national/international students in about half the countries and economies.

  • Almost all countries and economies have some government policies, measures or campaigns in place to support or increase participation in first-degree tertiary programmes. These are most often related to tuition fees (including free or capped tuition and decreased tuition for certain fields of study) and financial support to tertiary students (through student loans, scholarships and grants or through taxation policies).

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