Huge disparities exist between rich and poor countries in access to tertiary education, the United Nations has warned in its latest Global Education Monitoring Report.
Across 76 countries, 20 per cent of the richest 25-to 29-year-olds had completed at least 4 years of tertiary education, compared with less than 1 per cent of the poorest.
The report’s findings also show that despite global enrolment in tertiary education doubling between 2000 and 2014, a wide gap between rich and poor countries remains. Only 8 per cent of recent secondary school graduates enrol in tertiary education in sub-Saharan Africa compared to 75 per cent in Europe and Northern America.
The report sheds little light on the relative affordability of tertiary education worldwide. It suggests addressing this by monitoring the extent to which government financial assistance to households targets those most in need.
In one of its other findings, the report points to the important role tertiary education plays in encouraging political participation. In 102 countries, adults with a tertiary education were 60 per cent more likely to request information from the government than those with a primary education or less.