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13 Countries with the Highest Percentage of College Graduates in 2018

On the matter of the highest education level, we will research which the countries with the highest percentage of college graduates in 2018 are. Taking tertiary education as the most prestigious one, we could also say that these are the most educated countries for 2018 as well.

As we know, the tertiary education is obtained in universities of course. The first universities as we know them today were established a long time ago, in the medieval times. Concerning Europe, these universities were: the University of Bologna (as the first university ever established in 1088), followed by universities in Paris and Oxford, founded in 1150 and 1167 respectively.

But there is one even older university, located in the historical town of Fez, Morocco. That is the University of Al-Karaouine, established in the 9th century, which still exists!  Although nowadays it can only be attended by male Muslim people, it was founded by a woman. Nevertheless, many many years have passed until this university actually became a university in the modern sense – it was in 1947 when new fields of study were introduced (like chemistry, physics, and foreign languages), and the official name “University of Al-Karaouine” was obtained only in 1965.

Countries with the Highest Percentage of College Graduates in 2018

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In the 21st century, according to the World Bank, tertiary education encompasses all the post-secondary education which, apart from universities includes all sorts of colleges, vocational school, and other training institutes, being led by both private and public sectors. The number of tertiary education students is growing rapidly. It has become more accessible to wider range of the population in all parts of the world, having many universities and organizations offering to fund, especially for poor and developing countries. Anyway, we are here to see some facts about the countries with the highest percentage of college graduates.

We have based our research on the countries with the highest percentage of college graduates on the statistics that shows the percentage of a population with tertiary education degree diploma, instead of looking for some most educated countries in the world list. The data for first-time (meaning they are graduating for the first time with tertiary diploma) graduation rates in tertiary education (taken international students into account as well) was taken from the OECD’s report Education at a Glance 2017. We have also paid attention to the education quality, and we have provided that information as the following parameter as well. We have complemented this information with the statistics on gross graduation ration from first degree programs in tertiary education as provided by The World Bank, though this information comes from recent years.

The data on this was gathered from the World Economic Forum’s report on Global Competitiveness Rankings for 2017-2018, on the subcategory of Quality of Education System, with the highest score for education quality being 7. And having in mind education quality, you might be interested to find out which the Top 50 Most Educated Countries with the Best Education Systems in the World are.

Has the situation on the most educated countries changed (taking in mind college graduate rates) since some recent times, you can check out on 10 Countries with the Highest Percentage of College Graduates in the World.

This topic might not give the answer which country is the most educated country in the world, because the criteria which we take in mind on asking this question. In today’s list, as we have seen, we will get insight in those countries with the highest percentage of college graduates in 2018. So, let’s see which they are!

13. The Netherlands

Percentage of graduation rates in tertiary education: 49

Education quality ranking: 5.4/7

The University of Leiden surely sounds familiar to you. That is because this is one of the oldest and most prestigious universities that still exists. Apart from this one, there are many other quality universities in the Netherlands which offer an excellent education. That is why it is not a surprise that this is one of the countries with the highest percentage of college graduates in 2018 as well.

Countries with the Highest Percentage of College Graduates in 2018

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12. Austria

Percentage of graduation rates in tertiary education:  49

Education quality ranking: 4.2/7

There are 22 public universities, 21 universities of applied sciences, 13 private universities, and 17 university colleges in Austria. The University of Vienna is the largest Austrian and among the largest in Europe, having around 94,000 students. It is also among the oldest universities in this part of the world being founded in 1365.

Countries with the Highest Percentage of College Graduates in 2018

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11. Finland

Percentage of graduation rates in tertiary education:  53

Education quality ranking: 5.8/7

We are continuing our list of countries with the highest percentage of college graduates in 2018 with Finland which stands for a country with the best educational system in the world. That stands for all levels of education, having score 5.8 out of 7 for the education quality ranking. In their own words, education in Finland is based on equality, strong international relationships, low hierarchies and academic freedom. On the matter of equality, it is best shown in the fact that the education in Finland is free and available for everyone! Surely it is one of the best places in the world if considering your next step in education.

Countries with the Highest Percentage of College Graduates in 2018

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10. Lithuania

Percentage of graduation rates in tertiary education:  54

Education quality ranking: 3.6/7

With 54% of graduation rates in tertiary education, Lithuania deserves a righteous place among the top countries with the highest percentage of college graduates in 2018. With a population of only 2,86 million, enrollment rate in higher education is around 66% percent, which is a great deal of the population. But on the other hand universities in Lithuania are not among the top rated in the world.

Countries with the Highest Percentage of College Graduates in 2018

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9. USA

Percentage of graduation rates in tertiary education: 55

Education quality ranking: 5.6/7

The USA ranks among the top in the world when taking the quality of education in mind.  Well, that is surely because some of the top world’s universities such as Harvard University, MIT, Stanford University, Yale University, etc. are located here.

Countries with the Highest Percentage of College Graduates in 2018

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8. Slovenia

Percentage of graduation rates in tertiary education: 56

Education quality ranking: 4/7

In this small country in the mountainous landscapes of Alpine Europe, people seem to care much about the education. That is why Slovenia has a huge percentage of college graduates. The main public universities of Slovenia are the University of Ljubljana, University of Maribor and the University of Primorska, and among the top private ones is the University of Nova Gorica. With this number of universities for a country of only around 2.065 million people, no wonder there are so many college graduates here.

Countries with the Highest Percentage of College Graduates in 2018

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7. Spain

Percentage of graduation rates in tertiary education: 60

Education quality ranking: 3.7/7

Spain has 76 universities, most of which are public. Around 40.9% of the population in age group of 30-34 years has tertiary education, and in this category, females stand on higher ground than males. Being open to international students and encouraging mobility during studies – around 8,4% of students in Spanish universities are international.

Countries with the Highest Percentage of College Graduates in 2018

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6. Turkey

Percentage of graduation rates in tertiary education: 61

Education quality ranking: 3.2/7

Although not having the most quality education, Turkey has among the highest number of college graduates, as the figures show. Concerning tertiary education, there are 104 public and 62 private universities. Private universities in Turkey are operating since 1984, providing many students (around 40%) with some sort of financial aid. Apart from these, there are higher vocational schools with 2 years of education of undergraduate studies).

Countries with the Highest Percentage of College Graduates in 2018

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5. Denmark

Percentage of graduation rates in tertiary education: 65

Education quality ranking: 5/7

With high education quality, as well as the percentage of people with high education, Denmark surely deserves a high place among the countries with the highest percentage of college graduates in 2018. Also, Denmark holds the 3rd place for having the best educational system in the world.

4. Japan

Percentage of graduation rates in tertiary education: 72

Education quality ranking: 4.4/7

Around 70% high school graduates in Japan continue to the higher education. 12 of 69 universities in Japan are ranked among the top 100 universities in Asia, among which The University of Tokyo takes the 7th place (being the best in the country, followed by Tohoku and Kyoto Universities). These are some high figures indeed, which put Japan reasonably at the top of the countries with the highest percentage of college graduates in the world.

Countries with the Highest Percentage of College Graduates in 2018

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3. New Zealand

Percentage of graduation rates in tertiary education: 75

Education quality ranking: 5.4/7

Being among the top countries with the highest percentage of college graduates in 2018, nearly four out of five New Zealanders have some form of tertiary education. All age groups are included, from ages 15 to 65+ can attend to the tertiary education. New Zealander and those possessing a visa only pay the local fees for higher education in this country. Also, universities in New Zealand are ranked among the top 3% in the whole world.

2. Australia

Percentage of graduation rates in tertiary education: 76

Education quality ranking: 5.1/7

In Australia, there are 41 universities, of which 37 are public. And on the matter of finances, Australia seems to be one of the most expensive places to study for international students, with an average cost of $38,000 per year, but still seems to be among the most popular places for international students.

Countries with the Highest Percentage of College Graduates in 2018

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1. Russia

Percentage of graduation rates in tertiary education: 85

Education quality ranking: 3.7/7

If we only take a look at the Moscow State University, there are around 8,000 teachers and over 40,000 students, so it is not a surprise that we find Russia at the top of the countries with the highest percentage of college graduates in 2018. Apart from this one, this county with the long high education tradition nowadays has around 900 universities in Russia, of which around 366 are private, and 530 public.

Countries with the Highest Percentage of College Graduates in 2018

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