• Upper secondary attainment is often seen as a minimum qualification for successful labour market participation. In China, 37% of 25-64 year-olds had achieved at least an upper secondary qualification in 2020, compared to 83% on average across OECD countries. Of these, about half had achieved upper secondary education as their highest education attainment, while the remainder had completed a tertiary programme.

  • Among 25-64 year-olds in China, short-cycle tertiary qualifications are the most common tertiary attainment at 10% of the population followed by bachelor's degrees at 8% and master's and doctoral degrees combined with 1%. This is different from the OECD average, where bachelor’s degrees are most common (19%), followed by master’s degrees (14%) and short cycle tertiary qualifications (7%).

  • In China, the large majority of tertiary students (85%) are enrolled in public educational institutions (OECD average: 71%), while only a small portion are enrolled in private institutions (15%). The share of tertiary students enrolled in private institutions remained constant between 2013 and 2020 (Figure 1).

  • Enrolment rates are lower among the population aged 25 and above. In China, 1% of the 25-29 year-olds and less than 1% of 30-64 year-olds were enrolled in tertiary education in 2020.

  • Given the large size of the tertiary education system in China, foreign students represent less than 1% of all tertiary students (of these, 30% comes from neighbouring countries). However, foreign students in China represent 4% of all international and foreign students in OECD and other participant countries.


OECD (2022), Education at a Glance 2022: OECD Indicators, OECD Publishing, Paris,

OECD (2022), “Regional education”, OECD Regional Statistics (database),

For more information on Education at a Glance 2022 and to access the full set of Indicators, see:

For more information on the methodology used during the data collection for each indicator, the references to the sources and the specific notes for each country, See Annex 3 (

For general information on the methodology, please refer to the OECD Handbook for Internationally Comparative Education Statistics: Concepts, Standards, Definitions and Classifications (

Updated data can be found on line at and by following the StatLinks under the tables and charts in the publication.

Data on subnational regions for selected indicators are available in the OECD Regional Statistics (database) (OECD, 2022). When interpreting the results on subnational entities, readers should take into account that the population size of subnational entities can vary widely within countries. For example, regional variation in enrolment may be influenced by students attending school in a different region from their area of residence, particularly at higher levels of education. Also, regional disparities tend to be higher when more subnational entities are used in the analysis.

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The data on educational responses during COVID-19 were collected and processed by the OECD based on the Joint Survey on National Responses to COVID-19 School Closures, a collaborative effort conducted by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO); the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS); the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF); the World Bank; and the OECD.

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