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OECD: Denmark invests most in education

June 25, 2013
The latest OECD publication “Education at a Glance 2013” shows that higher education provides better opportunities for employment and a better income.

The higher the level of education, the better chances for employment and good income, according to the OECD report Education at a Glance 2013. The report also highlights the consequences of the economic crisis for young people.

The difference between those with high and low levels of education grew between 2008 and 2011. Unemployment increased during that period, and hit young people particularly hard.

Minister for Science, Innovation and Higher Education Morten Østergaard is interested in the statistics and notices that Denmark has the highest rate of investment in education of all the OECD countries.

- Education is the best response to creating long-term growth and progress. The OECD report shows that the government’s focus on having the most educated generation ever is the right one. We are therefore investing heavily and without compromise to achieve that objective. We need graduates who can immediately translate their knowledge to solutions in business and meet market demand for core professional competences, cross-sector cooperation and enterprise. And we need innovative young people with ideas and initiative who can transform them to new solutions and jobs to help us out of the current economic crisis, says Morten Østergaard.

In 2010, Denmark used 8.8 per cent of GDP on education – the most of any OECD country. The OECD average was 5.8 per cent of GDP. Denmark invested 2.4 per cent of GDP within higher education, compared to an OECD average of 1.4 per cent. Only Norway invested more in higher education.

There is a good reason for Denmark choosing to invest heavily in the education of young people. The country has yet to catch-up to some other countries for the numbers of highly-educated graduates in the workforce, particularly in relation to young people.

However, a significant number of Danish young people begin a higher education programme, and the completion rate is also quite high. Of those who pursue a Bachelor’s programme in Denmark, 81 per cent complete it. This is the fourth highest completion rate and significantly higher than the OECD average.

A total of 3.3 per cent of Danish students studied abroad in 2010 – 2 per cent above the OECD average, but fewer than in other European and Nordic countries.

The Danish government has recently published the first part of an action plan for internationalisation aimed at encouraging significantly more students to study abroad, improve international learning environments and improve Danish students’ foreign language skills.

- International outlook is central for each student’s foundation and ability to choose their own path in life, but it is also more and more necessary for faring well in the labour market. It is therefore my ambition that all young people will have an international element to their studies and that more choose to study abroad, says Morten Østergaard.

Education at a Glance 2013 also shows that:

  • The number of international students in Denmark in 2010 comprised 7.8 per cent of all higher education students – more than the OECD average of 6.9 per cent. Denmark is at a similar level to countries such as Ireland, Sweden and Canada, but less than the likes of Australia and the UK.
  • International PhD students comprised 22.6 per cent of all PhD students in Denmark in 2010, compared to the OECD average of 19.6 per cent.
  • 86 per cent of higher education graduates in Denmark are in employment, which is 2 per cent more than the OECD average of 84 per cent.
  • Those with higher education generally have a higher income than others. However, in Denmark the difference between higher education graduates income and that of people with a youth education is only 28 per cent, whereas the OECD average is 57 per cent.

About Education at a Glance 2013

  • Every year, OECD compiles education statistics and analyses for all OECD countries and publishes the results in Education at a Glance.
  • The report contains internationally comparative quantitative indicators. It is therefore ideal for illustrating Denmark’s international standing in the field.
  • Education at a Glance 2013 focuses on education completion rates and later employment and income.

For further information please contact:

Senior Adviser Ken Thomassen, tel. +45 7231 7985, email: keth@vus.dk

Head of Press Ingeborg Nielsen, tel. +45 2211 0200, email: imen@fivu.dk

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