Expenditure on higher education

Sweden makes a relatively large investment in tertiary education and research in higher education. This according to a new report from UKÄ (Swedish Higher Education Authority) based on data from the OECD annual publication Education at a Glance.

Only seven OECD countries invested more

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.

Research accounts for more than half of the expenditure

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.

As in most of the OECD countries, women in Sweden have higher educational attainment than men.

The population's educational attainment

The report Educational attainment and economic investment in the OECD further shows that in terms of the population's educational attainment, Sweden is slightly above the OECD average. 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.

Making data more accessible

The OECD's annual publication Education at a Glance (EAG) is very comprehensive and can be considered impenetrable for a reader who is not used to it. For this reason the Swedish Higher Education Authority aims to make the data from EAG more accessible and also to focus on Sweden in the international comparisons. The report Educational attainment and economic investment in the OECD is the first of a series of analyses in which the Swedish Higher Education Authority probes different dimensions and effects of investments in education in the OECD countries.

In this first report we are focusing on economic investments but our starting point is how educational attainment has developed over the years. The next two analyses will deal with issues relating to social factors and to establishment in the labour market.