The Most Educated Countries in the World

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4) Israel
> Pct. population with tertiary education: 46.4%
> Average annual growth rate (2000-2011): N/A
> Tertiary education spending per student: $11,553 (18th highest)

Most 18-year old Israelis are subject to at least two years of mandatory military service. Perhaps as a result, country residents tend to complete higher education degrees later in life than in other countries. The compulsory conscription, however, has not lowered educational attainment rates, as 46% of Israeli adults had attained tertiary qualification in 2012. More than $11,500 was spent per student on tertiary education in 2011, lower than most other developed countries. Low education spending in Israel has resulted in low teacher salaries. New secondary teacher hires with minimum training were paid less than $19,000 in 2013, versus an OECD average of more than $32,000.

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3) Japan
> Pct. population with tertiary education: 46.6%
> Average annual growth rate (2000-2011): 2.8% (12th lowest)
> Tertiary education spending per student: $16,445 (10th highest)

Like the U.S., Korea, and the United Kingdom, private spending accounts for the vast majority of spending on tertiary education in Japan. While this can often lead to social inequalities, Schleicher explained that like most Asian countries, Japanese families are by and large willing to save money for their children’s educations. Strong education spending and participation in higher education does not necessarily translate to higher academic skills. In Japan, however, higher spending did lead to better learning outcomes, as more than 23% of adults performed at the highest level of literacy proficiency, nearly double the OECD average of 12%. Younger students also seem to be well-educated, as Japan reported exceptionally high Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) scores in mathematics in 2012.

2) Canada
> Pct. population with tertiary education: 52.6%
> Average annual growth rate (2000-2011): 2.3% (8th lowest)
> Tertiary education spending per student: $23,225 (2nd highest)

More than half of Canadian adults had received tertiary qualification in 2012, the only country other than Russia where a majority of adults had some form of higher education. Canada’s education expenditure of $23,226 per student in 2011 trailed only the United States’ expenditure. Canadian students of all ages appear to be very well-educated. Secondary school students outperformed the majority of countries in mathematics on the PISA in 2012. And nearly 15% of adults in the country performed at the highest level of literacy proficiency, versus an OECD average of 12%.

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1) Russian Federation
> Pct. population with tertiary education: 53.5%
> Average annual growth rate (2000-2011): N/A
> Tertiary education spending per student: $7,424 (the lowest)

More than 53% of Russian adults between the ages of 25 and 64 had some form of higher education in 2012, more than in any other country reviewed by the OECD. The country has reached this exceptional level of attainment despite spending among the least on tertiary education. Russia’s tertiary education expenditure was just $7,424 per student in 2010, roughly half the OECD average of $13,957. Russia was also one of just a few countries where education spending declined between 2008 and 2012.