How does New Zealand's education system compare? OECD's Education at a Glance 2020

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 2020 EAG report. 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 2020 stems from four periods: educational attainment and labour market outcomes use 2019 data, school teacher data 2018/2019, other education indicators 2016-2018 data, and financial indicators the 2017/2018 financial year.

Author(s): Kirsti Rawstron and Alice Chappell, Evidence Data & Knowledge, Ministry of Education

Date Published: September 2020

Key Findings

  • New Zealand spent 6.3% of our GDP on education in 2017, ranking us 2nd within the OECD.1
  • Nearly three-quarters of New Zealand Year 7 to 10 teachers say they would become teachers again (2018), similar to the OECD average of 76%.
  • New Zealand sits above the OECD average in terms of our rates of early childhood enrolment for children under the age of three (2018).
  • New Zealand is above the OECD average for students completing upper secondary school within the expected duration of three years (2018).
  • A quarter of 25-34 year-olds in New Zealand have a vocational certificate as their highest qualification, which is above the OECD average (2019).
  • The 2019 unemployment rates of 25-34 year-olds with vocational certificates were lower in New Zealand than the OECD average.
  • In 2018 international students made up about 20% of all diploma level and above students in New Zealand. The OECD average was 6%.
  • 96% of all young adults who complete a bachelor’s or equivalent are in employment less than two years after graduating compared to the OECD average of 80% (2019).
  • Regardless of education level, the proportion of New Zealand adults who feel that New Zealand’s political system allows people like them to have some say about what the government does is higher than the OECD average (2016).


  1. A previous version of the New Zealand summary report incorrectly stated that spending 6.3% of our GDP on education ranks us 3rd within the OECD. This has now been corrected.

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