Global Education Digest 2009: comparing education statistics across the world

Global Education Digest 2009: comparing education statistics across the world

Tertiary education: the importance of understanding the composition of graduate outputs

This edition of the Global Education Digest (GED) explores the changing patterns in higher education, while presenting indicators that extend the entire scope of the education sector. The main aim of the digest is to help identify the potential for further expansion of the tertiary sector. In this context, the digest expands reporting on upper-secondary education graduates to 70 countries, which helps forecast the number of potential entrants into tertiary programmes.

The digest analyses the rising demand for higher education, and investigates how many attain tertiary qualifications, and in which fields of education they are, figuring out the trends of participation. In addition, it examines international student mobility, and also provides information about levels and sources of financing for tertiary education. Moreover, it introduces additional time series data on tertiary education to assess long-term progress.

The main findings of the digest are:

  • there is unprecedented growth in the number of tertiary students; much of this growth is due to changes in Asia
  • there are now more tertiary students in low-income and middle-income countries, while the opposite was true three decades ago
  • cross-nationally comparable data are vital to formulating policies, benchmarking progress and learning from experiences in other countries
  • broadening access to tertiary education has massive cost implications for governments, especially in developing countries, which brings attention to the important role of private sector in this relevance
  • by understanding the composition of graduate outputs, which is shaped by a complex web of factors, policymakers can make strategic decisions on how to invest limited resources within their own tertiary systems
  • it is essential for policymakers to understand the types of programmes that attract mobile students; this helps them better identify deficits in their local tertiary systems.