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How smart are you about education?

8 September 2010
by Brian Keeley

It’s September again, and in much of the world that means one thing – back to school. So, with that in mind, take a look at these three questions and see how much you know about education (answers below).

1. Generally in OECD countries, which age group is more likely to have a university-level qualification?

a. 25-34 year-olds  b. 55-64 year-olds

2. Around the world, 3.3 million tertiary students study abroad. In which of these OECD countries do foreign and international students make up the biggest slice of the student population?

a. Australia b. Switzerland c. The United States

3. Between primary and tertiary education, how much do OECD countries spend per student each year (in U.S. dollars)?

a. $1,688 b. $5, 644 c. $9,195

All these questions are based on data in OECD Education at a Glance, a compendium of data and statistics on education released every September by the OECD. It covers an enormous amount of ground, including how far young people and adults have studied, the economic benefits of education, who pays for it and conditions in schools and universities, such as teaching hours and student numbers. The point of collecting the data is to give OECD countries a basis on which to make comparisons about their education systems. This is important as there can be big variations in how well students perform in individual countries, even with similar levels of investment. As OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría said at the launch of Education at a Glance in Paris this morning, “In a global economy, it is no longer improvement by national standards alone. The best performing education systems internationally provide the benchmark for success.”

And the answers to those questions …

1 a: 25-34 year-olds ;  younger people are much more likely to have been through tertiary education in OECD countries, a reflection of the expansion of university-level education in recent decades.

2 a: Australia ; more foreign students go to the United States in absolute terms, but they account for a bigger share of the tertiary student population in Australia, more than one in five.

3 c: $9,195 ; most of the money goes on salaries for teachers and other staff.

Useful Links :  

Education at a Glance 2010

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