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OECD Data on Higher Education Attainment

There is always a lot of interest in the international data on higher education attainment that OECD publishes in its report Education at a Glance. The latest version of the report, which includes data for 2009, was released at 11 a.m. Paris time this morning. Here are the highlights:

  • The U.S. has slipped to 15th in the proportion of young adults (25 to 34) who have obtained a two- or four-year college degree. Last year, the U.S. was tied for 8th.
  • The reasons the U.S. fell so dramatically is that the U.S. rate fell by one percent (from 42% to 41%) while other countries increased. (The U.S. also lost one position due to the addition of Israel to OECD this year.)
  • The top three countries are the same as last year: South Korea, Canada, and Japan. South Korea’s attainment rate (25 to 34) increased by an astounding 5%; from 58% to 63%.
  • For all adults (25 to 64), the U.S. ranks 4th at 41%, behind Canada, Israel, and Japan.
  • In four-year degrees for young adults, the U.S. now ranks only 11th. Last year, we ranked 7th.
  • At 9%, the U.S. ranks 20th (out of 33) in two-year degree attainment.

Our take away from this data is very simple: We must do better.

Kate Snedeker

A series of reports show investing in employee tuition reimbursement yields significant financial payback.
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