Ireland ranked third among OECD nations for rate of third-level education

Ireland has been ranked third among the 38 member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) for the rate of third-level education attainment.

According to the OECD’s annual Education at a Glance report, 54% of Irish adults have completed third-level education, which is 13 percentage points more than the OECD average of 41%.

The report found that the number of young people (18 to 24 year-olds) not in employment, education or training in 2021 has dropped from the previous year to 12.1% and is well below the OECD average of 16.1%

The report also found that 63% of 18-24-year-olds in Ireland are currently in education, compared to the EU average of 59%.

It noted only 12.1% of young people in Ireland are currently not employed or in full-time education, four points below the OECD average.

Speaking today, Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris welcomed the report, saying: “The publication of this report highlights the significant advancements we have made in third-level education.

“We have continued to make important investments in further and higher education and these have been borne out by these positive trends.”

In Ireland, 29% of individuals between the 25-64 age range currently possess a bachelor’s degree, while 14% possess a Masters, and 9% have achieved short-cycle third-level accreditations.

Only 1% of 25-64-year-olds in Ireland have obtained a doctorate, a figure that is consistent with the rest of the OECD.

Minister Harris acknowledged the report “also highlights areas we need to improve on too, including part-time studies”. The OECD found that the number of part-time students in third-level education in Ireland is below that of the OECD average, with only 19% of students in Ireland studying part-time.

The OECD average of part-time students in the third level was 22%. In 2013, the figure was 16% in Ireland.

Harris said: “We have a good track record in relation to third-level education in Ireland, and I am pleased to see us building on this year on year. It is clear from the OECD report that Irish people understand its importance for their own well-being and success in life.”

He added: “Whether a higher or further education course, an apprenticeship, or even a short course to help you upskill, third level education proves to be an excellent start to those commencing their working life.

“I truly believe, and the statistics bear this out, that third-level education empowers people to achieve their mission in life and reach their potential.”

The OECD is an international organisation with 38 member nations from Europe, North America, South America, East Asia, and Australasia.

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