Education News

Ireland Ranks High on Third-Level Education in OECD ‘Education at a Glance’ Report

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Innovation, Research and Science, Simon Harris, and Minister of State, Niall Collins have welcomed the OECD report, ‘Education at a Glance’ (EAG), which showed that the number of young people in Ireland attending third-level education is significantly above the OECD average.

The study found that:

  • Ireland ranked 4th out of 38 countries.
  • 58% of people aged between 25 and 34 progressed to third-level education, compared to a 45% OECD average.
  • 50% of adults in Ireland (aged 25 to 64) furthered their education at third level compared to an OECD average of 40%.
  • The top three ranked countries are Canada, Luxembourg and Japan.
  • In 2019, adults in Ireland aged 25 to 64 with short-cycle third-level qualifications earned 32% more on average than those with upper secondary only, compared to a 20% OECD average.
  • Those with a bachelor degree earned 57% more, compared to an OECD average of 43%.
  • Those with a masters or doctoral degree earned 81% more, compared to an 87% OECD average.

The OECD has published the EAG report every year since 1992 and it is organised into four chapters:

  • The output of educational institutions and the impact of learning.
  • Access to education, participation and progression.
  • Financial and human resources invested in education.
  • Teachers, the learning environment and organisation of schools.

The EAG report is accompanied by a country note for Ireland (written and published by the OECD). This note discusses selected indicators from the EAG and comments on Ireland’s position compared to other countries.

At the same time, the Department of Education publishes a national briefing note on the EAG indicators. This note again discusses selected indicators across the various themes. The aim of the national briefing note is to highlight some key indicators, with a main focus on how Ireland compares with the OECD or EU22 averages.

Speaking today, Minister Harris said, “we should be very proud of the numbers of people in Ireland who choose to further their education at a tertiary level. I am particularly pleased at the number of older adults here who have decided to improve their education and add to their skills. This ties in perfectly with my Department’s mission to promote lifelong learning, be it in futher education, higher education or apprenticeships.”

“Lifelong learning is one of the key pillars of my department, and I’m delighted to see so many people, who may have thought it was too late to return to education, are now finding courses that suit their needs across the country. It is also refreshing to see so many of our younger people understand how competitive careers are today, and that if they want to succeed in their chosen field they need to learn the skills required at a third-level insititution.”

Minister of State for Skills and Further Education, Niall Collins, added, “we have a rich history with education in Ireland, and it’s clear from the OECD report that our both younger and older adults understand its importance for their own well-being and success in life.”

“It doesn’t matter if it is a traditional higher or further education course, an apprenticeship, or even a short course to help you up-skill, I firmly believe each one empowers people to achieve their mission in life and reach their potential.”

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