How does New Zealand's education system compare? OECD's Education at a Glance 2019

Publication Details

This summary report, How Does New Zealand’s Education System Compare? OECD’s Education at a Glance, is an annual Ministry of Education publication designed to complement the release of the 2019 EAG. It contextualises and more closely examines how New Zealand’s education system compares, noting areas where it performed above or below OECD averages. New Zealand’s data for EAG stems from four periods: educational attainment and labour market outcomes use 2018 data, school teacher data 2017/2018, other education indicators 2017 data, and financial indicators the 2016/2017 financial year.

Author(s): Kirsti Rawstron, Evidence Data & Knowledge, Ministry of Education.

Date Published: September 2019

Key Findings

From early childhood to adult education, Education at a Glance 2019 paints an overall picture of comparative success for the New Zealand education system.

  • New Zealand is ranked highest in the OECD in terms of educational spending as a percentage of total GDP.
  • The actual salaries of teachers and principals in New Zealand were above the OECD average in 2018 for both primary and secondary schools.
  • Degree completion rates for New Zealand are amongst the top five in the OECD, although New Zealanders on average take longer to complete their degree than many other OECD countries.
  • Compared to other OECD countries, New Zealand has an above-average proportion of the population with a bachelor’s degree.
  • Fewer adults pursue a master’s degree in New Zealand compared to other OECD countries – short post-bachelor’s courses are more common in New Zealand, which is rare among OECD countries.
  • International students account for 20% of all diploma-level and above students in New Zealand and for 50% of doctoral candidates. This is much higher than the OECD averages of 6% for all diploma-level and above students and 22% for doctoral candidates.
  • New Zealand has a higher employment rate than the OECD average, particularly for diploma-level and above educated young adults.
  • Our Not in Employment, Education or Training (NEET) rate for 18-24 year olds is below the OECD average.


  1. Please note these salaries are from 2018 and predate the new collective agreements negotiated in 2019; see Collective agreements on page 6 for further details.