Room4Talk blog | In which countries is a university degree most valuable?

In which countries is a university degree most valuable?


Let's guess ;)

Some countries have quite a reputation for university fees, which can make people wondering : does it really worth it? It seems so. Indeed, in those countries where going to university is a huge investment, getting a degree really makes the difference. Basically, having a degree means more money, eventually.

The study aims at showing that in some countries, having a degree creates more highly-paid job opportunities and income, creating a socio-economic gap between those who are highly-qualified and those who stopped studying after high school or even before.

At the top of the list, there is Ireland, where the lifetime net benefit of having a degree is huge, followed by the United States, which have the most expensive fees in the world when it comes to university: most students take a lifetime to pay for their loans back, but it depends on which university you attended and in which fields. Of course, the US have a good reputation for scholarship too, so if you have excellent skills in any fields (such as sports, math etc), you won’t have to pay $40,000 each year. In the US, students coming from the most prestigious universities are usually able to get rid of their loans sooner and are more likely to get a super-paid job. Also in the UK, going to university is expensive but it’s really worth it later.

On the other hand, there some countries, known for their welfare state, where the gap between graduates and non-graduates is not that big as far as career, salary and other benefits in the long term are concerned. At the top of the list, we have: Sweden, Denmark and Norway, but you imagined that, didn’t you?

Of course, the study has nothing to do with problems such as unemployment, wealth or the quality of the life. As we could see, these countries where unemployment is not an issue and that have strong economies, have adopted different models that seem to work despite being so different. However, there are also some countries where having a degree doesn’t make the difference and also means that you won’t have such huge benefits in the long term either. On the contrary, there could be some countries where a degree means a lot for your future and career, but is not a synonym of big money (you also need to take into account the purchasing power of each country and the general economic trends…).

So, we think that a simple ranking* of the countries where there is quite a gap between graduates and non-graduates and where getting a degree can launch your career.

  • 1. Ireland
  • 2. United States
  • 3. Poland
  • 4. Britain
  • 5. South Korea
  • 6. Slovenia
  • 7. Hungary
  • 8. Czech Republic
  • 9. Portugal
  • 10. Slovakia
  • 11. France
  • 12. Estonia
  • 13. Germany
  • 14. Austria
  • 15. Finland
  • 16. Japan
  • 17. Israel
  • 18. Netherlands
  • 19. Belgium
  • 20. Italy
  • 21. Norway
  • 22. New Zealand
  • 23. Greece
  • 24. Denmark
  • 25. Turkey
  • 26. Sweden

*Sources: OECD, 2014 (for the year 2010)