And the World’s Most Educated Country Is…

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With spiking tuition costs, insurmountable loan balances, and the unemployment rate for recent college graduates hovering around 53%, it’s clear that a college education hasn’t gotten the best rap lately. Despite the ongoing financial woes across the globe, though, many think that college is still worth the investment. A new study shows that we’ve continued to flock to institutions of higher learning, enrolling at record rates over the past few years. Not surprisingly, the percentage of adults with degrees soared highest in developed nations, reaching 30% in 2010. But which of these nations can boast the status of most educated?

(MORE: Where Are America’s Most Well-Read Cities?)

Based on a study conducted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), 24/7 Wall St. compiled a list of the 10 countries with the highest proportion of college-educated adult residents. Topping the charts is Canada — the only nation in the world where more than half its residents can proudly hang college degrees up on their walls. In 2010, 51% of the population had completed a tertiary education, which takes into account both undergraduate and graduate degrees. Canada commanded the top spot in the last study in 2000, but even still has shown serious improvement. A decade ago, only 40% of the nation’s population had a college degree.

Snagging the number two most-educated spot was Israel, which trailed Canada by 5%. Japan, the U.S., New Zealand and South Korea all ranked with more than 40% of citizens having a higher-education degree. The top 10 most-educated countries are:

1. Canada

2. Israel

3. Japan

4. United States

5. New Zealand

6. South Korea

7. United Kingdom

8. Finland

9. Australia

10. Ireland

Read the original article here at 24/7 Wall St., for a detailed breakdown of each nation and its education status.

MORE: And the Most Peaceful Country in the World Is …

233 comments
danf87
danf87

I've lived in Vancouver and across the US and Peru and can say that Canadians are the most educated, well mannered people I have ever met. Iam American-Canadian.

splur
splur

Man, the article isn't titled the "World's Smartest Country" or the "World's Most Well Educated Country", it's selling exactly what it's titled... the "World's Most Educated Country" in terms of quantity as a percentage of the population that has tertiary education.  You can look at it a million different angles and the OECD report does exactly that, but you probably won't find out which country is the smartest because that is completely subjective even with standardized tests.  Especially not as a ranked list!  Most nations with developed education systems would probably be tied at #1.

What exactly these numbers and rankings mean isn't even related to smarts, but rather the fact that a lot of these countries are forcing their younger generations to seek post-secondary education because it's simply impossible to get a job otherwise.  Academic inflation, it's a business.  This list could also be a commentary on post-secondary education equity and accessibility, but then I'm surprised that Scandinavian countries aren't higher on this list.  I'd like to see the numbers on the percentage of graduates with Bachelors degrees that get high paying professional jobs, I'd gladly move to the country on the top of that list!

KJ!
KJ!

While I don't necessarily agree that post=secondary education is the best measure of general education ( a) quality and quantity are not the same thing, and b) there is such a thing as an education about things other than Byron or chemical engineering), and it is certainly not a measure of how smart or aware a country is, It is amazing how the comments are all either defending their own countries (high school) educational system (Not what the study was measuring!) or bashing Israel. No one is asking why the results turned out the way they did (for non-Israel countries) or what those results say about a population. I am Canadian. I am not surprised by the results. In Canada, having a university or college degree is par for the course. You basically HAVE to go, (unless you want to do an apprenticeship) and even then, most people get a uni degree first and THEN do practical training afterwards. Having a uni degree in Canada today is like having a high school diploma 50 years ago.  And besides, why is it bad to have a mechanic or a plumber or a police officer (or, since it's  Canada, a lumber jack) who is well versed in Aristolean philosophy or anthropology or bio-chem? We value education. Our immigration system is largely based on education (even though it doesn't work very well and foreign trained doctors and engineers end up being taxi drivers or working in factories while they wait years to have their qualifications recognised or to be tested again to earn Canadian qualifications), and in my experience the children of immigrants are almost more likely to go to university than the suburban white kids (most I knew went into construction). There is a LOT more to say about these results than taking cheap shots at Israel. 

mostafajnainati6767
mostafajnainati6767

lebanon is the best educational country in my opinion, i mean im still in gr 9 and i take english literature (edgar allan poe richard connell...) . at math we solve about 60 question per lesson we have about 4 math books that barely last us the year but the payment fee is the only downer a decent school costs about 42000dollars per person that is, if ur lucky to find one this cheap

MinDaLin
MinDaLin

maturity & results of knowledge attained speaks higher volumes.

I.Q. from written answers/tests has no weight over ones actions.

dave69
dave69

um.... it's likely "worth the cost" in other countries across the globe because the cost is likely 1/4 of that in the US - or FREE.  I know TIME is a US-based magazine, and caters mostly to US readers, but wouldn't somehow comparing more than just "higher-educated percent" be wise?  In addition to the relative costs, I'd also have pointed out age distribution.  I'm sure countries like Germany and France have high educated populations if the study was more thorough.  I know this isn't a scientific journal, but a few extra graphs/charts would help.  For instance: in Germany the health care system is impeccable, leading to a very large population over the age of 60. This means that probably half of the population lived in war-time or in a time where universities were less official and more like philosophical schools for those who decided not to go into the workforce.  In addition, the German education system does not directly allow the lower 2/3 of the student population to directly apply for university - it is decided for them in the sixth grade whether or not they will be eligible for university and they have to jump through a ton of extra hoops in order to change that.  Also, private universities are often not officially accredited, and public universities are few and small and highly-competitive.  They also only recently moved to a bachelor/master system, so before, the equivalent was a two-three year diploma, then another 3-6 year "magister" degree.  Even today a lot of German students take up to eight years to complete a bachelor's degree because they are required to supplement their studies with working, travel and often take gap years off to experience life or change studies.  Of course many US-Americans and Canadians just get shoved through the university system in four years, which is why unemployment is high: they have no experience and companies opt rather for someone who's done internships at their company or they pay their current employees a bit more and pay for further training, or they outsource simple jobs.

I'm rambling now, but the fact is that "people with a university degree" isn't really a good measure of anything except that.  It's a demographic like any other: "how many people own blue socks" or "what percentage of the population has watched Sesame Street".

SnowRun99
SnowRun99

God bless all countries on the list and their people and their opportunities and access to the education.

God bless also efforts in other countries to improve that process.


Guess Israel is on such high position according to the tradition and determination to balance Life between study of Torah and study for daily life personal growth and desserving the opportunity to contribute to the community with sharing and processed knowledged on basis of the one's seeds of good.

Not aware for the reasons of Canada. But I am sure there are uselfish reasons in the intention for providing sustainable life and co-habiting with nature, all people and other values.

What makes me confused that OECD is percepted in my environment as institution that is limited public access to the education and intentions for people's personal growth and desserving the opportunity to increase competences for creative and more knowledgeable labour force.

Bless be the paths to the truth if I am wrong.


Someone told me what makes Israel as more competent and educationally effective in Economy and World sharing is suppose to be the fact that their universities are offering opportunities all aged classes to upgrade or re-qualificate their competences in knowledge. Specially for aged groups in middle age.  Guess this is esstential. Because of the need to extend working period and postopone the retirement that requires further investement into the self not only on health, mind conditions but also to express the self through knowledge upgrade and co-habiting in the educational process. Specially in the scenarious of loosing jobs, or during hard job - time or mind intensive . In every aspect of Life even in nature there is concept to be able to make some reserved action like being in proactive actions that someday the comfort zone of present job or present competences will be over. And proactively upgrade knowledge or even reset the one's qualification to some completely new level seems to be vary natural process and part of the system.

Why such process is so hard to establish and all countries desserve place on such prominent and nobble list of educated countries?






amora.patterson
amora.patterson

Israel has chosen from GOD,,GOD always bless them from the beginning,,,Israel is the name of Jacob,,son of Isaac and grandchild of Abraham...Wherever Israel go,,GOD always with them. 

MahabalappaHalappa
MahabalappaHalappa

So, a moderation in education, industry is desired feature, as very high education, without job creates sycophants, and, wasting, valuable, life time, money, resources. That is say, Educating people should not become business, rather, educate to do good, and, imbibe good work culture, to earn for life, both quality, quantity.


Mahabalappa.H. 

andi
andi

Gee I thought China was. Every person you see is going over seas to complete masters, doctorates or bachelors degree. Australia's second largest industry now is education and her largest customer is China. I believe the same scenario also exists in New Zealand. You walk the streets here and you talk to students who have completed a bachelors in computers or what ever and they work as waiters, shop assistance etc. No that is a well over educated country.

davidstamaria
davidstamaria

Will have to go over the article again. Kinda surprised that with the metrics US is way up there. 

ElPresario
ElPresario

True, Israelis (Zionists) are clever enough to enslave other with their corrupted system such as the manipulative capitalism! Sooner or later, they want the whole world to recognize them as the world leader and towards the New World Order so that everybody can be exploited.

Crazy_canuck_77
Crazy_canuck_77

This is actually amazing. So many people getting so upset about this ranking. News flash: this wasn't a list of the world's "smartest" countries (whatever that means), it's a list of the most educated countries. There is even a definition of their meaning of most educated, and an explanation that not everyone thinks more education is better. I'm glad I'm Canadian though, my education taught me to read. 

JonLovejoy
JonLovejoy

from this it is obvious that apprenticeships are not counted otherwise Germany, Austria, Sweden and Switzerland would have featured on the list.

buzz_us
buzz_us

if they are so clever why are they exploiting  tar sand helping towards mass extinction 

Cedric
Cedric

10 Awesome countries really great people in each one of them, yet to visit Australia and New Zealand. Wish other countries in the world, would have the same opportunity.

MazlenaMazlan
MazlenaMazlan

This is not the world's most educated country...it's OECD's most educated country. The title is so misleading, although I would suspect if all countries are taken into account the top 10 wouldnt vary so much.

HansW.Gottinger
HansW.Gottinger

This whole measurement business completely leaves out vocational education and training which would be a significant but often underestimated part of a knowledge based economy contributing to endogenous economic growth. In vocational training through their dual educational process and apprenticeship system Germany is second to none. That this is not counted in evaluating the educational status of a nation is at best misleading and at worst totally meaningless. Innovation and technology in new products and processes must be accompanied by skill acquisition through vocational training as an 'increasing returns mechanism'. See my book"Strategies of Economic Growth and Catch-Up"(2012)

Hans W. Gottinger

salbo
salbo

There is one specific reason why Canada and Israel have the most university graduates worldwide...Immigration. Both countries have very high numbers of highly educated immigrants. Toronto is a mecca for 100,000 new immigrants each year, most of whom have university education (Canada has strict rules regarding who is admitted in). Israel's high immigration rates from Russia would have also raised the percentage. The US can't compare - they have many education immigrants in Silicon Valley and the R&D hotspots on the East Coast, but nowhere near Canada's focus on bringing in educated immigrants.

harrell
harrell

Germany is not even listed in the top 10 but has the most resilient economy in the world and produces cutting edge products. Guess having a college education does not mean you make anything.

MatteoD'agostino
MatteoD'agostino

israel may rank second in the most educated countries in the world, but it is first among all arrogant countries, besides, in israel they practise racism and apartheid against the palestinians. moreover they oppress and harass the palestinians and treat them as third class citizens. so, what kind of education do they really have? they have perfected the art of cheating, lying and discriminating. they insult christians by spitting on them. so how come they are the second most educated country in the world? just fabrications. false publicity. i would never go to israel.

PainfullyHonest
PainfullyHonest

It's funny because you make a big deal of Israel being 2nd for Education and then link to the Global Peace index. 

There it ranks 150th out of 162.    Maybe more of that brainpower should be directed towards altruism  and not $tart Ups 

A better list would be to combine the two factors.   Lets see where the truly "enlightened" are.   You'll note that from the list above the majority of those countries score well on the Global Peace index except USA,  UK and Israel.  

Here http://www.visionofhumanity.org/#page/indexes/global-peace-index/


AmadeodelosRíos
AmadeodelosRíos

Biased findings. A quick look at the actual OCDE table shows Spain should be in the list as for the latest data (2010)

theandylee
theandylee

what a load of bull.  South Korea leads with the highest percentage of 12th graders entering college at 84% and 55.5% graduation rate for FOUR-YEAR PROGRAMS.  need to get your facts straight.  but even though korea places a ridiculously high social importance on education, i think germans are the best educated people in the world

theandylee
theandylee

what a load of bull.  South Korea leads with the highest percentage of 12th graders entering college at 84% and 55.5% graduation rate for FOUR-YEAR PROGRAMS.  need to get your facts straight

Jooser73
Jooser73

What a joke!, Ok here it goes ,a friend of my son last year (2012) went to Utah for a year to learn English, both were going to start High school in Berlin Germany, He gets tested and does his High school in the USA in a year in others words, he went from the 11 class to the 12 class, Kid graduated High school and gets offered a 80K USD scholarship to study in America, father and mother (friends of us)  say NO, you come back and get tested here (they wanted to know the extent of an American High school Graduation), got tested and woala sorry Peter you will Need to Go Back and start your High school  because here you do not have the proper Math, Physic or Chemistry knowledge to go to our Universities, so Peter a High school grad and recipient of a scholarship in Utah (USA) began this year his 11 class at the Einstein Gymnasium in Neuenhagen (Berlin),our son is about to graduate from this Gymnasium while Peter is just starting his 11 class, what a JOKE!!!!!! this list is a JOKE.

eks
eks

@amora.patterson : I think it is more about hard work than about any god. The fact that they have been surrounded by enemies since their origin as a state is also a HUGE factor: the relentless and naked hostility serves to unite them, and education for them is also about survival under these hostile conditions. Also, for thousands of years Jews have been subjected to endless persecution in the names of "friendly" gods. They have learned through bitter experience not to depend on others but to be self-reliant.

dave69
dave69

@andi Australia and NZ aren't a good global representation.  The "western world" is made up largely of Europeans, North Americans, and lastly Aus/NZ/Japan/Singapore/Russia/Eastern Europe.  I've lived in both Europe and North America, and don't know of anyone whose gone to China for higher education.  I do know that the US, UK, Canada and Germany impose strict limits on how many Chinese can acquire university visas in their countries.  We need to look at the broader picture.

PS, you can read my comment above to see my comments on this not-well-thought-out article.  They leave so much information and so many statistics out that this article seems to basically be some random statistic like "50% of all people from Sweden have driven in a car before they turned 18"

dave69
dave69

@davidstamaria the US has very few stipulations on who can study at university.  Realistically, anyone who qualifies for a loan can qualify for study at a mediocre state university.  Also, the life expectancy in the US is lower, meaning there are fewer old folks from a time when university wasn't important.  Many non-US citizens go to the States to study, which boosts the overall percentage.  There were no sources stated in this article, rather, it is simply a summary of somebody's blog.  TIME magazine has really dropped the ball on this article.  It's a glorified facebook post.  OMG, THE US ISN'T NUMBER ONE IN EDUCATION - WTF???  I wouldn't be surprised if some 18-year-old ADHD kid wrote this.

eks
eks

@ElPresario: That is just glib and mindless ranting, like Hitler's hate-mongering propaganda. 

SuhailShafi
SuhailShafi

@ElPresario Well said - I don't care if those people have more degrees than a thermostat - their treatment of Palestinians is despicable. 

BenjaminRodkin
BenjaminRodkin

@ElPresario Yeah, a country founded by socialists with universal healthcare and welfare benefits, real paragon of capitalism right there. Have you taken your meds yet? If there was a news story about a new falafel joint in Tel-Aviv, would you get equally as deranged?

ArielDahan
ArielDahan

@buzz_us Because people still ask for more and more cheap gas and get all upset when the price at the pumps rises?

eks
eks

@MatteoD'agostino : To claim "they insult christians by spitting on them" is like Jack the Ripper complaining that one of his victims spat on him before he offed her. How conveniently you overlook the centuries of horrendous persecution including torture and murder heaped on countless Jews by christians in the name of some "friendly and peaceful real god"? 

Also, when it comes to "arrogant countries" that engage in religious discrimination, you can't possibly beat Islamic countries. They'll do a lot more than spit on you if you dare to mention your faith. 

KomlaDzunu
KomlaDzunu

@MatteoD'agostino Neither will I.....


ringer
ringer

@MatteoD'agostino What does this have to do with the survey? This is a very racist and insulting comment. I thought there were regulations against inciting racism in the media! 

mikeair
mikeair

@MatteoD'agostino  you limited hater :) 

a one-week visit to Israel will greatly lighten your mind full of clichés.

Bon Voyage!

Jonathantol
Jonathantol

@PainfullyHonest The reason Israel is ranked so low in this list is because of the amount of firearms we have, produce and buy. And the reason we buy and posses so many firearms is because we're pretty much in constant war with many neighboring nations.

long4short_dj
long4short_dj

@Jooser73 He went to Utah to learn English not math, physic or chemistry... what do you expect?

adamizme
adamizme

@Jooser73 lol, what was it a Utah community college? Hey buddy, the colleges in Utah are not that hard to get into. There are thousands upon thousands of colleges in the US...not all of them good. Did he get a scholarship to study at Yale, Harvard, MIT, UC Berkley, Brown, NYU, Princeton, Columbia, Stanford, Cal Tech, Northwestern or UPenn? Nope. No wonder Europeans are low on this list.

guest12345
guest12345

@dave69 ...ADHD ? You were working well with strong reason and empirical rationale and then you decided to generalise for the sake of storytelling and to sensationalise the immaturity of the article.  Clearly the CAPS went on and you lost your way.  Be better.  You're very capable of it.

Cana--duh
Cana--duh

@eks Someone mentions the ironically hypocritical and despicable way Israelis treat Palestinians, and you of course resort to bring up the Holocaust in an attempt to swing the attention and sympathy back to the Jews (unsuccessfully) . How much milk is left in that 70+ year old atrocity that you can milk it for? Perhaps we start looking at what's happening 'presently' instead of doing the whole "Nazi, Hitler, Anti-Semite, etc." song and dance (even though Arabs are Semitic and Ashkenazi Israeli Jews are not--but that's a topic for another discussion)? Oy vey, Schlomo!

Critic-1
Critic-1

I wish you existed to make similar comments when Pakistan was repressing Bangladesh in 1970-71.

Gunzel51
Gunzel51

@ecoguerrer0 @MatteoD'agostino If read your Bible, you could fairly accurately guess where was even 3000 years ago. One of the areas the Arabs want for a Palestinian state is actually called "Judea".

After you've done that, I suggest you try and find if a country called Palestine even existed apart from the British Mandate days when the Jews were Palestinians..

As for Israel's so called apartheid, it is the Palestinians who have said that no Jews will live in any future Arab Palestinian state. Meanwhile, the Arabs in Israel (the peaceful ones, not the ones trying to blow us up) are everywhere in the Jewish state.

SuhailShafi
SuhailShafi

@Critic-1 I couldn't - Pakistan was not one of the world's best educated countries then and it is not one of the world's best educated countries now. But I do see your point.