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OECD study: Education levels average in Finland

A new comparison of education systems by the OECD puts Finland right in the middle of comparable countries—a far cry from the country’s table-topping feats in the PISA rankings. The reason is Finland’s below-average rates of tertiary education among older adults.

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Image: Toni Pitkänen / Yle

A fresh OECD report has made surprising findings about Finland’s education levels. While young adults are among the best-educated in the world, older adults often missed out on higher level training, bringing down the country’s overall performance in international comparison.

”The only countries where young people are better educated than in Finland are South Korea, Poland, Britain and Norway,” said Mika Witting of Statistics Finland.

Older people, meanwhile, don’t have that tertiary level of education. That’s because many of the people that now go to a university or university of applied sciences would in decades gone by have completed their training at a different college level.

That level no longer exists and is not recognised by the OECD figures. Other Nordic countries are similarly affected by changes in their education systems.

Women are primarily responsible for the increase in young people’s education levels, as rates of tertiary education among men aged 25-34 showed only a small increase compared to older age groups.

Men also comprise the greater number of those with basic education levels, but the overall figure of one in ten young people with just a basic education is low by international standards. South Korea is a model country in education terms, with just two percent of South Korean youth left with only a basic education.

Germany, meanwhile, has proportionately just half the highly-educated population of Finland. That’s because many young Germans decide to study a trade via apprenticeships where Finns might go to a university of applied sciences before entering the same industry.

You can read the 'Education at a Glance 2014' study here.

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