OECD Education at a Glance 2012

11 September 2012

Commenting on the release of OECD’s Education at a Glance report, Russell Group Director General Dr Wendy Piatt said:

“The UK’s leading universities provide some of the best tertiary level education in the world – we can rightly be proud. But this report reveals that without more investment, the UK risks jeopardising the competitive advantage that has made our universities the envy of the world.  

“While our universities are experiencing cuts in public funding, other nations are pumping billions more into their universities to gain a competitive edge. UK public investment in higher education is only 0.6% of GDP, below the OECD and EU 21 averages, lower than Brazil, Russia or any EU country for which data was available, and comparable to South Africa. The UK’s total investment in higher education amounts to just 1.3% of GDP: half that of the USA. We must aim to bring our investment in higher education closer to that of our major competitors. 

“These OECD figures also confirm once again the financial pay-off for most graduates from taking a degree in this country. As employment rates fell for those without a degree during the global economic crisis, the UK graduate employment rate actually rose. Research published elsewhere has also shown that Russell Group graduates receive an average 10% top-up over those with other degrees. In an uncertain world, a good degree is a sound investment. 

“As the UK’s economic competitiveness becomes increasingly dependent upon high-tech industries and skilled graduates, our leading research-intensive universities will be crucial to future growth and prosperity. Of course, there is a cost involved in ensuring universities are adequately resourced, but the costs of not doing so are much greater.”

Note to editors

  1. The Russell Group’s approximate wage premium can vary considerably according to the subject studied and university attended. Chevalier, A. and Conlon, G. Does it pay to go to a prestigious university? Centre for the Economics of Education, LSE (March 2003).

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