Education: Britain climbs university league

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The Independent Online
British higher education is a big success compared with that in most developed countries, according to an authoritative international survey published yesterday. But we are still trailing in literacy and maths and in the number of children who stay in education after the age of 16.

Universities in the UK have expanded dramatically during the last decade, but the increase has been achieved without a high drop-out rate.

Figures covering 29 countries compiled by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development show that the UK comes fourth in the league of those completing degrees, just behind Australia, the US and Canada.

Around a third of young Britons now attend university, and the figure has doubled in a decade.

The picture is less rosy for those who leave school at 16 than for university students. Three-quarters of young people are still in education at the age of 17, a big improvement on a decade ago, but still well behind countries such as France, Finland and Sweden where the figure is 90 per cent or more.