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UK graduate economy booms despite crippling student debt

More people in the UK now opt to pursue a university-level education rather an ending their education at upper secondary schools, according to a new report.

The Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) conducts it Education at a Glance study on annual basis – this year, it claims there has been a larger shift.

Up until 2008, the number of adults with an upper secondary diploma as their highest level of attainment was higher than those who had obtained a tertiary degree.

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However, the research has now found that in 2012, 41 per cent of adults had earned their degree, a larger proportion than those who had ended their education at any other level.

This figure includes 48 per cent of 25-34 year olds.

Furthermore, the number of women who earn a university level degree is on the rise – 50 per cent of 25-34 year women in the UK have achieved education at this level, compared to 47 per cent in France, 31 per cent in Germany and 48 per cent in the US.

“On the one hand in the UK you can say qualification levels have risen enormously, lots more people are getting tertiary qualifications, university degrees, but actually not all of that is visible in better skills,” claimed Andreas Schleicher, OECD director of education.

“Quality and degrees do not always align,” he added.

The report says that those with a higher level of education receive higher earnings – those who do not have an upper secondary education earn 70 per cent of what someone with an upper secondary education has.

Those with a tertiary education in the country tend to earn 55 per cent more than those whose highest level of education ended at secondary school.

There is also a gender gap in earnings, adult women in the UK earn 20 per cent less than men regardless of education level and the proportion of employed women is much smaller than employed men across all levels of educational attainment.