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Education Indicators in Focus

Education Indicators in Focus is a recurring series of briefs that highlight specific indicators in OECD’s Education at a Glance that are of particular interest to policy makers and practitioners. They provide a detailed look into current issues in pre-primary, primary and secondary education, higher education, and adult outcomes from a global perspective, and contain an engaging mix of text, tables and charts that describe the international context of the most pressing questions in education policy and practice.

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How much do tertiary students pay and what public support do they receive?

OECD countries differ significantly in the way spending on tertiary education is shared between public and private sources of funding, and in the financial support they provide to students. Countries with high tuition fees tend to also be those where private entities other than households make a more significant contribution to funding tertiary institutions. By contrast, in countries with more progressive tax regimes, students often pay low or no tuition fees and have access to generous public subsidies for tertiary education, but then face high income tax rates. An increasing number of OECD countries charge higher tuition fees for international students than for national students, and many also differentiate tuition fees by field of education, largely because of the divergent returns on wages. In countries with high tuition fees, student financial support systems that offer all students loans with income-contingent repayments combined with means-tested grants can be an effective way to promote access and equity while sharing the costs of tertiary education between taxpayers and students.

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