Member area

Education at a Glance 2018 – A TUAC Assessment

19 September 2018

The OECD released its Education at a Glance (EAG) report on September 11 including a wealth of data on educational outcomes, lifelong learning and structural conditions (English:; French: This year’s volume focussed on equity outcomes which is welcome as it highlights large gaps in regard to access and labour market outcomes, specifically for disadvantaged groups. It also illustrates contributing factors such as decreasing funding, low teacher salaries, large class sizes, inherent gender gaps and high student fees amongst other.

The TUAC looked into the report’s findings on equity and labour market outcomes, investment levels and adult learning patterns. In his editorial, the OECD Secretary General underlines that inequalities need to tackled by strengthening skills systems and inclusive labour markets in reference to the OECD Framework for Inclusive Growth (released at this year’s annual Ministerial Council Meeting) (p. 13). This is an important message as well as the call in the main report for more public investments, in particular during economic downturns. Other issues highlighted in the report include:

  • benefits of VET in general (e.g. higher employability compared to upper secondary programmes
  • adult learning displays low take-up with increasing age, which calls for measures to enable access to training
  • wage inequalities come about as a result of several system factors including the existence and level of minimum wages and coverage of collective bargaining agreements not only educational outcomes
  • women earn 26% less than men for tertiary educated individuals
  • student debt increases linked to tuition fee systems and access to subsidies
  • The share of NEETs is persistently high and increases with age
  • Foreign born individuals face disproportionate barriers

Education International (EI) released a statement and summary of the report’s main findings (see here: ; podcast: ). It notably acknowledged the discussion on the OECD’s contributions to the SDGs. EI expressed concern for decreasing school funding and its negative impact on vulnerable groups with long-term consequences, especially in early childhood education. On average across OECD countries, less than one-third of children under the age of 3 are enrolled in early childhood education and care, and 1 out of every 3 are enrolled in privately funded institutions. This does not point to equal and sufficient access. EI criticised the “OECD’s continuing arguments that there is a trade off between lower class sizes and higher teachers’ salaries is invidious. It would be much more productive if it started arguing strongly for reducing class sizes for students with significant needs.”