More Flemish students in higher education and more time to get a diploma, OECD reports

More and more students are entering higher education in OECD countries. This is a good sign, but not everyone has the same access to education and the percentage of students graduating within the allotted time is very low in some countries. That's according to a new OECD report on education. Belgium also scores below the OECD average when it comes to the number of students who do not graduate "on time".

The number of 25 to 34-year-olds graduating from higher education in OECD countries has risen from an average of 27 percent in 2000 to 48 percent in 2021, according to OECD's annual "Education at a Glance".

No diploma in 3 years

Yet many students do not graduate or take a long time to complete their studies. On average, only 39 percent of students have a bachelor's degree in three years. In Belgium, the average is even lower: 32 percent in Flanders and 21 percent in French-speaking Belgium. After another three years of studying, Flanders scores 67.5 percent better than the OECD average (65 percent), French-speaking Belgium does less well (52 percent).

"If you have an open selection of students, like Belgium, then it is obvious that the pass rates are lower," says OECD education expert Dirk Van Damme. 

He sees no problem if Belgium scores lower, because the level of education in the country is quite good: 51 percent of 25 to 34-year-olds have a higher diploma. 

"Nevertheless, the graduation degree could be improved. Not by making the conditions for the intake more stringent, that is a social choice that was made, but by making the transfer more efficient, so that more people can complete their studies in a normal period," says Van Damme. 

For example, he points to the "hard cut" that is being introduced in Flanders. As it already happens in other countries, Flemish students can only follow Master studies after finishing their bachelor's degree. Before, the Belgian region allowed more flexibility. 





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