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Higher education investment boosts economy, says major international study

11 September 2012 | last updated: 11 December 2015

Investing in higher education boosts the economy and graduates are less likely to struggle to find work in a recession, says a major international study release this morning.

  • UK graduates more likely to be employed despite recession
  • Low qualifications increase risk of joblessness
  • Six-fold return on state investment in a student's higher education

'Education at a Glance 2012' from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) says that in 2008 (the latest data available) for the UK there was a six-fold public financial return on the direct cost to the state of higher education.

The public net value, including income tax and social security payments, over their lifetime for men in the UK with highereducation was $86,500 and $91,365 for women, compared with those who have obtained an upper secondary education. The direct cost to the state of higher education was $15,151.

The report says that graduates' job prospects are much better than non-graduates. The average employment rate of university-educated individuals in the UK increased, even during the recenteconomic crisis, (by 0.1 percentage points), while the employment rate among individuals with lower levels of education decreased by 3.3 percentage points between 2008 and 2010.

UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'Investment in education pays for itself many times over and is central to economic growth as this report shows.

'The government urgently needs a growth plan for our country, which places investment in education at its heart. Giving people the skills to earn more and participate in society is key to getting Britain back on the road to prosperity.'