Educational attainment and economic investment

This report is based on data from the OECD’s annual publication Education at a Glance (EAG).

EAG is very comprehensive and can be considered impenetrable by readers who are not used to it. For this reason UKÄ (Swedish Higher Education Authority) aims to make the data from EAG more accessible and also to focus on Sweden in the international comparisons.

Summary: Sweden in relation to other countries

Sweden makes a relatively large investment in tertiary education and research in higher education.

In 2011 there were only seven OECD countries that invested more than Sweden in terms of proportion of the GDP.

There are, however, major differences between countries in the forms that funding takes. Sweden and the other Nordic countries are among those where, on the whole, all funding comes from the public purse, while in countries like Canada, South Korea, the USA and Australia funding comes largely from private sources, mainly through tuition fees.

Sweden, together with Switzerland, is characterised, however, by the fact that more than half of the total expenditure on tertiary education consists of expenditure for research in higher education. In most other countries expenditure on education accounts for the bulk of the expenditure.

If expenditure for education alone is taken into account, Sweden does not do as well in comparison with other countries. In terms of the population’s educational attainment Sweden is slightly above the OECD average.

As in most of the OECD countries, women have higher educational attainment than men. If we consider higher education, 34 per cent of Sweden’s younger population had qualifications of this kind in 2012, but there has been no change in this proportion since 2009. In most other countries the proportion has continued to grow.

Educational attainment in Sweden

Educational attainment in Sweden is somewhat higher than the OECD average. 43 per cent of the younger population have tertiary education, whereas the corresponding figure for the older population is 29 per cent.

Proportion of women and men in the adult population (25-64) with at least two years of tertiary education in 2000 and 2012:

The countries are ranked according to the highest educational attainment among women in 2012.

Proportion of women and men in the adult population (25-64) with at least two years of tertiary education in 2000 and 2012.

Higher education among the younger population

In the OECD countries in 2003 an average of 20 per cent of the younger population (25-34 years) had higher education but in 2012 this figure had risen to 30 per cent.

In Sweden the proportion of 25-34-year-olds with higher education has risen from 24 to 34 per cent since 2003. This rise took place up until 2009, since when the proportion has not changed. This is because higher education was expanded in Sweden during the 1990s and the first few years of the following decade, while in the later years of the decade no expansion took place.

The cost of tertiary education

In 2011 the OECD countries devoted an average of 1.6 per cent of GDP to tertiary education and research undertaken in higher education.

In the OECD countries for which data are available, about two thirds of the expenditure is for education and about one third for research in higher education, measured in terms of cost per student. In Sweden, as in Switzerland, the proportion spent on research in higher education is unusually high – over half of the expenditure per student.

Educational institutions’ expenditure per student for tertiary education and research in higher education in 2011 in the countries for which information is available allocated to different activities

Numbers expressed in USD converted using PPP. The countries are ranked according to the size of expenditure on education:

. Educational institutions’ expenditure per student for tertiary education and research in higher education in 2011 in the countries for which information is available allocated to different activities