How does New Zealand's education system compare? OECD's Education at a Glance 2013

Publication Details

This report "How does New Zealand's education system compare?" draws on the New Zealand results in OECD's Education at a Glance 2013 and summarises the characteristics and performance of New Zealand's education system in an international context. This year's report mostly relates to education in 2011.

Author(s): David Scott, Ministry of Education.

Date Published: September 2013

Please consider the environment before printing the contents of this report.

This report is available as a download (please refer to the 'Downloads' inset box).  For links to related publications/ information that may be of interest please refer to the 'Where to Find Out More' inset box.


Every year, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) publishes Education at a Glance, a set of indicators that compares the education systems of its 34 member countries, and eight other participating partner and G20 countries. These indicators give us a good opportunity to view the characteristics and performance of our system against the systems of other countries. Despite some limitations, the Education at a Glance indicators are considered to "reflect a consensus among professionals on how to measure the current state of education internationally", and probably give us the most reliable and most complete basis for comparison currently available.

This is the 21st edition of Education at a Glance. This year's report reflects 2011 data for most non-financial indicators, and 2010 data for financial indicators. It includes 170 country comparisons tables covering 25 education system indicators including:

  • Educational attainment in the population
  • Participation and achievement
  • Expenditure on education
  • Employment and earnings by education level, and returns on educational investments
  • Social outcomes of education
  • Transitions from school to work
  • Students travelling outside of their country to study
  • Staffing: teacher-student ratios, salaries, and demographics
  • Vocational attainment - size and labour market outcomes
  • Student financial support, and tertiary tuition fees
  • How early childhood systems differ around the world

New this year is an indicator on how smoking and obesity are associated with education.

This summary presents high-level highlights in relation to New Zealand. Readers are encouraged to check out the full report. The report and all tables and graphs are available on the OECD website.

EAG 2013 uses the International Standard Classification of Education (or ISCED 97) as a common basis for classifying and comparing educational levels. 

Under ISCED 97, pre-primary relates to those aged 3 and over in centre-based education, and so under-represents ECE as it is structured in New Zealand, as it excludes home-based ECE and ECE for those aged two and under. Under ISCED, "upper secondary" refers to those with at least a year 12-equivalent school qualification. Those with a year 11-equivalent qualification, such as NCEA 1 or school certificate, are counted as "below upper secondary". "Upper secondary" also includes Level 1-3 post-secondary education. Both these points have a reasonable impact on how results for "upper secondary" can be interpreted. The term "tertiary-educated" in EAG relates just to diploma level and above. Level 1-3 certificates are classified with "upper secondary" and level 4 certificates are classified as a separate "post-secondary non-tertiary" group.