How U.S. Fares Globally on Higher Ed Measures

January 4, 2016

The United States spends more money per student on higher education than any of the other developed countries in the Group of 20, while its performance on many attainment measures does not lead the pack, a new report from the National Center for Education Statistics shows.

The report compares the U.S. and the other G-20 countries on a wide variety of K-12 and postsecondary education indicators. Among the highlights:

  • The proportion of 25- to 64-year-olds who had completed a higher education degree was higher in the Russian Federation (53 percent), Canada (51 percent) and Japan (46 percent) than it was in the United States (42 percent) in 2011. Slightly more 25- to 34-year-olds (43 percent) than 25- to 64-year-olds in the U.S. had earned a postsecondary credential as of 2011.
  • The U.S. ranked fifth among reporting countries in the proportion of 20- to 29-year olds who were enrolled in formal education in 2011, at 27 percent. That was up from 23 percent in 2001.
  • The United States had the highest core expenditures per student on higher education in 2010, at about $19,700. Canada was next at $15,100. The United States also spent a higher percentage of its gross domestic product on education (5.9 percent) than any other G-20 country reporting data.
  • In higher education over all, the United States had the smallest percentage of international students (3 percent) in 2011 of the five G-20 countries with data, including Australia (20 percent), the United Kingdom (17 percent), Canada (7 percent) and Japan (4 percent). But the absolute number of international students in the United States was larger than in any of the other countries reporting data.
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