Skills beyond school

Be more purposeful in guiding tertiary education, OECD tells governments


16/09/2008 - In today’s knowledge-driven global economy, countries need to build on tertiary education to generate innovation, sustain competitiveness and boost economic growth.  A new OECD report, Tertiary Education for the Knowledge Society, offers policy recommendations to help meet these goals.


The report draws on the OECD Thematic Review of Tertiary Education, a study of tertiary education policy in 24 countries. It investigates tertiary education policy across its many facets, from governance, funding and quality assurance to equity, research and innovation, academic career, links to the labour market, internationalisation and policy implementation.

Among its recommendations:

  • Goals – Ensure that tertiary education contributes to economic and social objectives:  foster links to employers, communities and labour markets;  promote effective university-industry links for research and innovation.
  • Governance – Devise sound instruments to steer tertiary education: improve the capacity of ministries to develop policy and evaluate performance;  establish and maintain a balance between institutional autonomy and public accountability.
  • Funding – Develop a funding strategy to optimise the contribution of tertiary education to society and the economy:  cost-sharing between students and government;  a comprehensive student support system;  subsidies related to the benefits tertiary programmes bring to society.
  • Quality Assurance – Emphasise quality and relevance:  improve quality assurance frameworks;  develop a strong quality culture;  focus more on student outcomes.
  • Equity – Give greater prominence to equity in national tertiary education policy:  systematically monitor equity issues;  devote significant resources to address inequities.
  • Internationalisation – Position national systems in the international arena:  develop a strategy and framework for internationalisation;  encourage institutions to be more proactive internationally.


For further information, journalists are invited to contact Susan Copeland (mail to: at OECD's Directorate for Education (tel. + 33 1 45 24 97 34).


Read the Executive Summary of Tertiary Education for the Knowledge Society.


For more information on the Thematic Review of Tertiary Education:


A companion series – OECD Reviews of Tertiary Education – offers an in-depth analysis of tertiary education policies in each of the 14 countries which opted for an in-depth review by an OECD team: China, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Japan, Korea, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland and Spain.


Tertiary Education for the Knowledge Society can be purchased in paper or electronic form through the OECD’s Online Bookshop. Subscribers and readers at subscribing institutions can access the online version via SourceOECD. Journalists may obtain copies via the OECD's password-protected website or from OECD's Media Division ( @ tel. +33 1 45 24 97 00).


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