Indicators on education in the OECD

More than half of graduates are women


Most graduates from bachelor and master’s degree programmes are women in Norway and in most OECD countries. In a majority of OECD countries, more men than women hold a doctoral degree.

The OECD report Education at a Glance 2016 shows that 63 per cent of graduates from a bachelor’s degree programme in Norway in the academic year 2013/14 were women. Among all OECD countries, only Sweden had a larger proportion of women – 69 per cent. In only three countries – Germany, Japan and Switzerland – the majority of bachelor graduates were men.

Figure 1

1.Female graduates from bachelor, master and doctorate programmes in 2014

Women accounted for 58 per cent of graduates from master’s degree programmes in Norway, which was close to the average for all OECD countries this academic year (57 per cent). In Iceland and Latvia, almost 70 per cent of the graduates from this level were women. In Japan and Turkey, 32 and 43 per cent of the master graduates respectively were women.

More men than women graduated with a doctoral degree during the academic year 2013/14. On average across OECD countries, 47 per cent of doctoral graduates were women, while the corresponding figure for Norway was 49 per cent. In eleven countries, women accounted for at least half of all graduates at this level. Finland was the only Nordic country where women outnumbered men at doctorate level (53 per cent). In the other Nordic countries, as in Norway, the female proportion among doctoral graduates was just below 50 per cent.

Figures from Statistics Norway show that 52 per cent of the doctoral graduates in Norway were women in 2014/15, and figures from the Nordic Institute for Studies in Innovation, Research and Education (NIFU) indicate that the female proportion among doctoral graduates will increase even more.

Less than half of all bachelor students complete within the nominal length of study

At bachelor level, the average rate of completion is 41 per cent within the nominal length of study, and 69 per cent three years later for full-time students. Completion rates vary considerably between countries, ranging from 23 per cent in Austria to 71 per cent in the United Kingdom within the nominal length of study, and from 51 per cent in Estonia to 84 per cent in the United Kingdom three years later.

Only full-time bachelor students in the United Kingdom had a higher completion rate than full-time students in Norway within the nominal length of study. While 71 per cent of the bachelor students in the United Kingdom had completed their degree within the nominal length of study in 2013/14, about 50 per cent of the students in Norway completed within this time.

Figure 2

2.Distribution of full-time students who entered a bachelor´s degree programme, by nominal length of study (N) and nominal length of study plus three years (N + 3). 2014

Young people have higher education

Although upper secondary education continues to be the highest educational attainment for the largest proportion of 25–64 year-olds across countries, it no longer represents the largest proportion among 25–34 year-olds in about half of the OECD countries.

As an average for OECD countries, 43 per cent of the population aged 25–64 years had upper secondary education as their highest attained level of education in 2015. Another 35 per cent of this age group had attained a higher education, while the remaining 22 per cent had below upper secondary education. In nine OECD countries, a larger proportion of this age group had a higher education than an upper secondary education, including both Norway and Iceland.

Over recent decades, the expansion in higher education has been significant, and people with a higher education account for the largest proportion of the 25–34 year-olds in many OECD countries. As a result of the expansion in higher education, the proportion of 25–34 year-olds with a higher education is 42 per cent across countries. However, there are still notable variations across countries. In China and Costa Rica, about 20 per cent of this age group had a higher education, while in the Czech Republic and in the Slovak Republic more than 60 per cent had attained a higher education.

In Norway, 48 per cent of the 25–34 year-olds had attained a higher education in 2015, while 33 per cent had attained an upper secondary education.

Figure 3

Educational attainment in the age group 25-34 years. 2015