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Belgium
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Belgium
Overview of the education system (EAG 2013)
  • Upper secondary attainment is high in Belgium, with a high proportion in a vocational programme. In 2011, almost three out of four Belgians had at least an upper secondary education: 71% of 25-64 year-olds compared with the OECD average of 75%. The younger generation is doing even better: 82% of 25-34 year-olds held at least an upper secondary qualification, equal to the OECD average. Given 2011 graduation patterns, it is expected that 68% of young people in Belgium will complete an upper secondary level vocational qualification in their lifetime (OECD average: 47%). In Belgium, there was a 7 percentage point difference in employment rates between those who graduated from vocational programmes and those who held a general qualification (76% versus 69%) similar to the OECD average of 76% and 70%, respectively.
  • The unemployment rate in Belgium increased far less steeply than in other European countries between 2008 and 2011. For adults with a tertiary education, it increased by only 0.2 percentage points, reaching 3.4% by 2011. This was an insignificant increase when compared with unemployment rates across the OECD (increase of 1.5 percentage points; 4.8% in 2011) and EU21 countries (increase of 2.0 percentage points; 5.2% in 2011). At the same time, for those without an upper secondary education, the unemployment rate increased by 1.2 percentage points (12.1% in 2011), way below the average increases among both OECD (increase of 3.8 percentage points; 12.6% in 2011) and EU21 countries (increase of 5.1 percentage points; 15.6%).
  • Among 15-29 year-olds in Belgium, 47% were students, 43% employed and 13% neither in employment nor education or training (NEET), compared with an OECD average of 47%, 37% and 16%, respectively. Between 2008 and 2011, many young adults decided to postpone their entry into an insecure labour market and stay in education. On average among OECD countries, the percentage of students in this population increased by 2 percentage points at each level of education over this period. In Belgium, this was also the case for students with upper secondary education (an increase of 5 percentage points to 44%) and with tertiary education (an increase of 3 percentage points to 21%).
  • In 2011, Belgium ranked eighth among OECD countries for levels of expenditure from primary through to tertiary education, spending USD 11 028 per student per year compared with an OECD average of USD 9 308. The comparatively high annual expenditure per pupil at the secondary level (USD 11 004, compared with an OECD average of USD 8 998) is linked to both high teachers' salaries and a low student-to-teacher ratio.
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    The following list displays indicators for which your selected country shows the highest and lowest values among countries. The list can be sorted by level of education or by age group. All rankings are calculated including available data from OECD and partner countries. Find out more about the methodology here.

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    Educational outcomes

    The level of tertiary attainment among 25-64 year-olds is one of the highest among OECD and G20 countries with available data. (27.1 %, rank 10/32 ) Download Indicator

    The proportion of 25-64 year-olds who have attained vocational programmes in the upper secondary or post-secondary level is one of the lowest among OECD and G20 countries with available data. (26.1 %, rank 18/27 ) Download Indicator

    The proportion of 25-64 year-olds men who have attained vocational programmes in the upper secondary or post-secondary level is one of the lowest among OECD and G20 countries with available data. (28.7 %, rank 19/27 ) Download Indicator

    Participation in education

    The percentage of young people expected to graduate from pre-vocational and vocational programmes in upper secondary education in Belgium is comparatively high (67.6 %, rank 8/36 ) Download Indicator

    The average age of graduates from vocational programmes at the upper secondary level in Belgium is comparatively high. (25.2 Years, rank 8/25 ) Download Indicator

    In Belgium, the percentage of today's young people expected to graduate from upper secondary education of general programme is one of the lowest among OECD and G20 countries with available data. (35.2 %, rank 28/36 ) Download Indicator

    The proportion of upper secondary vocational men graduates who studied Engineering, manufacturing and construction is one of the lowest among OECD and G20 countries (32.9 %, rank 25/25 ) Download Indicator

    The proportion of upper secondary vocational men graduates who studied agriculture is one of the lowest among OECD and G20 countries (2 %, rank 22/25 ) Download Indicator

    The proportion of upper secondary vocational women graduates who studied humanities, arts and education is one of the highest among OECD and G20 countries (23 %, rank 5/25 ) Download Indicator

    The proportion of upper secondary vocational women graduates who studied health and welfare is one of the highest among OECD and G20 countries (23.5 %, rank 8/25 ) Download Indicator

    The proportion of upper secondary vocational women graduates who studied social science, business and law is one of the lowest among OECD and G20 countries (12 %, rank 24/25 ) Download Indicator

    The proportion of female graduates who studied services in upper secondary vocational programmes is one of the lowest among OECD and G20 countries (12.6 %, rank 19/25 ) Download Indicator

    The proportion of female graduates who studied engineering, manufacturing and construction in upper secondary vocational programmes is one of the lowest among OECD and G20 countries (2.4 %, rank 24/25 ) Download Indicator

    The proportion of female graduates who student agriculture in upper secondary vocational programmes is one of the lowest among OECD and G20 countries (0.8 %, rank 24/25 ) Download Indicator

    The proportion of male graduates who studied humanities, arts and education in upper secondary vocational programmes is one of the highest among OECD and G20 countries (14.6 %, rank 3/25 ) Download Indicator

    The proportion of male graduates who studied health and welfare in upper secondary vocational programmes is one of the highest among OECD and G20 countries (6.2 %, rank 1/25 ) Download Indicator

    The proportion of male graduates who studied social services in upper secondary vocational programmes is one of the lowest among OECD and G20 countries (6.7 %, rank 19/25 ) Download Indicator

    The proportion of upper secondary students enrolled in vocational or pre-vocational programmes is one of the largest among OECD and G20 countries with available data. (72.8 %, rank 3/38 ) Download Indicator

    In Belgium, the number of expected years in education between the ages of 5 and 39 is one of the highest among OECD and G20 countries with available data. (18.8 Years, rank 6/38 ) Download Indicator

    The percentage of all tertiary students in Belgium who are international students is one of the highest among OECD and G20 countries with available data. (8.2 %, rank 8/36 ) Download Indicator

    The change in the number of foreign students in tertiary education in Belgium between 2005 and 2011 is one of the smallest among OECD and G20 countries with available data. (113.9 %, rank 31/34 ) Download Indicator

    Resources for education

    Annual expenditure per student from primary to tertiary level is one of the highest among OECD and G20 countries with available data. (11028 USD Equivalent, rank 8/32 ) Download Indicator

    Annual expenditure per secondary student is one of the highest among OECD and G20 countries with available data. (11004 USD Equivalent, rank 9/34 ) Download Indicator

    Annual expenditure per student, for core and ancillary services, from primary to below-tertiary institutions is one of the highest among OECD and G20 countries with available data. (10123 USD Equivalent, rank 7/35 ) Download Indicator

    In Belgium, cumulative expenditure per tertiary student is one of the lowest among OECD and G20 countries with available data. (45384 USD Equivalent, rank 12/20 ) Download Indicator

    The change in expenditure between 2005 and 2010 per student at the tertiary level is comparatively large. (104 Index, rank 8/29 ) Download Indicator

    The change in total expenditure between 2005 and 2010 at the tertiary level is comparatively large. (98 Index, rank 2/33 ) Download Indicator

    The change in the number of students between 2005 and 2010 at the tertiary level is comparatively large. (94 Index, rank 7/29 ) Download Indicator

    In Belgium public expenditure on educational institutions as a percentage of GDP is comparatively high. (6.4 %, rank 4/33 ) Download Indicator

    In Belgium private expenditure on educational institutions as a percentage of GDP is comparatively low. (0.2 %, rank 26/29 ) Download Indicator

    In Belgium the change in expenditure between 2008 and 2010 on educational institutions as a percentage of GDP is comparatively small. (102 Index, rank 23/30 ) Download Indicator

    In Belgium the change in public expenditure between 2008 and 2010 on educational institutions as a percentage of GDP is comparatively small. (101 Index, rank 24/31 ) Download Indicator

    The share of private expenditure on pre-primary education is one of the smallest among OECD and G20 countries with available data. (3.6 %, rank 25/28 ) Download Indicator

    In Belgium public expenditure on education as a percentage of GDP is comparatively high. (6.6 %, rank 7/33 ) Download Indicator

    In Belgium the change in public expenditure between 2008 and 2010 on education including subsidies to households is comparatively small. (102 Index, rank 23/30 ) Download Indicator

    The change in public expenditure on education as a percentage of total public expenditure between 2008 and 2010 is one of the smallest among OECD and G20 countries with available data. (97 Index, rank 23/30 ) Download Indicator

    Teachers

    The number of students per teacher in tertiary institutions is one of the largest among OECD and G20 countries with available data. (20 Students, rank 5/27 ) Download Indicator

    The ratio of students to teaching staff at the lower secondary level is especially low. (8 Students, rank 31/32 ) Download Indicator

    The ratio of students to teaching staff at the upper secondary level is especially low. (10 Students, rank 27/32 ) Download Indicator

    The number of students per teacher in secondary schools is one of the smallest among OECD and G20 countries with available data. (9 Students, rank 33/36 ) Download Indicator

    Economic and social outcomes

    The employment rate among 25-64 year-old men with only primary or pre-primary education is comparatively low. (45.7 %, rank 22/26 ) Download Indicator

    The employment rate among 25-64 year-old women with only primary or pre-primary education is comparatively low. (28.4 %, rank 20/26 ) Download Indicator

    The employment rate among individuals without an upper secondary education is comparatively low. (47.7 %, rank 28/35 ) Download Indicator

    The employment rate among men without an upper secondary education is comparatively low. (57.9 %, rank 27/35 ) Download Indicator

    The employment rate among women without an upper secondary education is comparatively low. (37 %, rank 28/35 ) Download Indicator

    The proportion of male full-time earners among all earners aged 55 to 64 with below upper secondary education is comparatively high. (69.3 %, rank 7/14 ) Download Indicator

    The proportion of male full-time earners among all earners aged 55 to 64 with upper secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary education is comparatively low. (60.5 %, rank 12/14 ) Download Indicator

    The proportion of female full-time earners among all earners aged 55 to 64 with upper secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary education is comparatively high. (55.2 %, rank 7/14 ) Download Indicator

    The proportion of male full-time earners among all earners aged 55 to 64 with tertiary education is comparatively high. (78 %, rank 9/14 ) Download Indicator

    The proportion of female full-time earners among all earners aged 55 to 64 with tertiary education is comparatively low. (55.1 %, rank 11/14 ) Download Indicator

    Compared with other OECD and G20 countries, the earnings of men without an upper secondary education are relatively high compared to those of men with an upper secondary education. (92 Index, rank 1/17 ) Download Indicator

    Compared with other OECD and G20 countries, the earnings of women without an upper secondary education are relatively high compared to those of women with an upper secondary education. (84 Index, rank 2/18 ) Download Indicator

    Compared with other OECD and G20 countries, the earnings of adults without an upper secondary education are relatively high compared to those of adults with an upper secondary or a post-secondary non-tertiary education. (91 Index, rank 1/18 ) Download Indicator

    Compared with other OECD and G20 countries, the difference in earnings between men with a tertiary education and those with an upper secondary education is quite low. (129 Index, rank 17/18 ) Download Indicator

    Compared with other OECD and G20 countries, the difference in earnings between women with a tertiary education and those with an upper secondary education is quite low. (134 Index, rank 16/18 ) Download Indicator

    Compared with other OECD and G20 countries, the proportional difference in earnings between adults with a tertiary education and those with an upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary education is quite low. (129 Index, rank 16/18 ) Download Indicator


    General findings
    • Across almost all OECD countries, upper secondary attainment is the norm. On average, 75% of 25-64 year-olds and 82% of 25-34 year-olds had reached this level of attainment in 2011. However, despite notable strides, some countries remain far below the OECD average in upper secondary attainment. For example, in Mexico, Portugal and Turkey, less than 20% of the population had attained upper secondary education as the highest level of education in 2011.
    • Vocational education and training is a major factor in the educational attainment of people in many countries. In 2011, a vocational upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary education was the highest level of attainment for more than 50% of 25-64 year-olds in Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Poland, the Slovak Republic and Slovenia. However, in these countries, people tend to leave education after attaining upper secondary qualifications. In an additional 10 OECD countries, a vocational upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary attainment was the highest educational level for more than 30% of 25-64 year-olds.
    • Tertiary attainment levels have increased considerably over the last decades. On average across OECD countries, the proportion of 25-64 year-olds that hold a tertiary qualification has increased by 4.2% per year since 2000. However, even though tertiary attainment rates have increased in recent years, less than 35% of both men and women had attained a tertiary education in 2011.
    • If current tertiary attainment rates among 25-34 year-olds are maintained, the proportion of adults in France, Ireland, Japan and Korea who have a tertiary education will surpass that of other OECD countries, while the proportion in Austria, Brazil and Germany will fall further behind other OECD countries.
    • Significant progress has been achieved in reducing the gender gap in educational attainment and women have surpassed men in many aspects of education in OECD countries. Among 30-34 year-olds, more than 40% of women had a tertiary education in 2011, surpassing the rate of men with that level of education by about 8 percentage points. Tertiary attainment rates among young women have grown strongly in Australia, Canada, Ireland, Israel, New Zealand, Norway and Sweden, where 50% or more of younger women in that age group had attained tertiary education in 2011.
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    • Across OECD countries, employment rates are highest among people who have a tertiary education; and these individuals are also most likely to be employed full time.
    • Unemployment rates are nearly three times higher among individuals who do not have an upper secondary education (13% on average across OECD countries in 2011) than among those who have a tertiary education (5% in 2011).
    • Individuals who have at least an upper secondary education have a greater chance of being employed than those without that level of education.
    • Gender differences in employment rates are smallest among tertiary-educated individuals and largest among men and women who do not have an upper secondary education.
    • In all OECD countries, adults with tertiary education earn more than adults with upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary education, who, in turn, earn more than adults with a below upper secondary education.
    • On average across OECD countries, the difference in earnings between younger and older workers increases with educational attainment, benefitting more educated older workers. The earnings premium for tertiary-educated 55-64 year-olds is generally larger than that for all tertiary educated workers: in 2011, on average, the earnings differential between these two groups increased by 16 percentage points.
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    • In 2011, on average across OECD countries, 16% of 15-29 year-olds were neither employed nor in education or training (NEET) (7% unemployed and 9% inactive), as were 8% of 15-19 year-olds (2.7% unemployed and 5.8% inactive), and 20% of 25-29 year-olds (8% unemployed and 12% inactive).
    • In Chile, Greece, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Mexico, Spain and Turkey, more than 20% of 15-29 year-olds were NEET in 2011 compared to less than 10% in Austria, Iceland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland. Unemployment levels are particularly worrying in Greece (14.6% in 2011) and Spain (17.0% in 2011), as is inactivity among young people in those countries (7.1% and 7.5%, respectively, in 2011).
    • On average across OECD countries in 2011, 18% of 15-29 year-old women were NEET (12% inactive and 6% unemployed) as were 13% of 15-29 year-old men (7% unemployed and 6% inactive).
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    • In 2010, OECD countries spent an average of 6.3% of their GDP on educational institutions. Out of the 33 countries for which data were available, this proportion exceeded 7% in Denmark, Iceland, Israel, Korea, New Zealand, Norway and the United States. Only the Czech Republic, Hungary Italy, the Russian Federation and the Slovak Republic spent less than 5% of their GDP on educational institutions.
    • On average, OECD countries spent USD 9 313 annually per student from primary through tertiary education in 2010: USD 7 974 per primary student, USD 9 014 per secondary student and USD 13 528 per tertiary student. Spending per pre-primary student amounted to USD 6 762 per year.
    • While there was no clear global trend in how the proportion of public expenditure on education evolved during the economic crisis, in 14 out of the 30 countries with available data, public expenditure on education grew at a faster rate than public expenditure on all other services between 2008 and 2010.
    • Public funding accounted for 84% of all funds for educational institutions on average in OECD countries in 2010, and between 2000 and 2010, public funding increased for all levels of education combined. However, more pressure has been put on households to share the cost of education, and private funding increased at an even greater rate in more than three-quarters of countries. The share of public and private investment in education differs among education levels. Tertiary institutions and, to a lesser extent, pre-primary institutions obtain the largest proportions of funds from private sources (32% and 18%, respectively, in 2010).
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    • The ratio of students to teaching staff varies across OECD countries and levels of education. At the primary level, there were more than 15 students for every teacher on average in OECD countries in 2011. In most countries, the student-teacher ratio decreases between primary and lower secondary school, despite an increase in class size. In 2011, there were, on average, about 14 students per teacher at the secondary level. At the tertiary level, there were, on average, about 16 students per teacher in OECD countries.
    • The number of teaching hours per teacher in public schools in 2011 averaged 790 hours per year in primary education, 709 hours in lower secondary education, and 664 hours in upper secondary education.
    • Teachers' statutory salaries vary widely across countries, but often increase with the level of education. In 2011, the statutory salaries of teachers with at least 15 years of experience averaged USD 36 135 at the pre-primary level, USD 38 136 at the primary level, USD 39 934 at the lower secondary level, and USD 41 665 at the upper secondary level. Between 2000 and 2011, teachers' salaries increased in real terms in most countries.
    • On average in OECD countries, pre-primary school teachers' salaries in 2011 amounted to 80% of full-time, full-year earnings of tertiary-educated adults working in different occupations. Primary school teachers' salaries amounted to 82% of that income, lower secondary school teachers' salaries amounted to 85% of that benchmark, and upper secondary school teachers' salaries amounted to 89% of those earnings.
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    Note: These values should be interpreted with care since they are influenced by countries' specific contexts and trade-offs. In education, there is often no simple most- or least-efficient model. For instance, the share of private expenditure in education must be read against other measures designed to mitigate inequities, such as loans and grants; longer learning time is an opportunity to convey more and better content to students, but may hinder investments in other important areas. If you want further information on the nature of different variables, please take the time to read the analysis and contextual information, available at the website for each publication.
    All rankings for individual variables are compiled on the basis of OECD and G20 countries for which data are available. The OECD average includes only OECD countries which are listed here: http://www.oecd.org/about/membersandpartners/

    For additional notes, please refer to annexes in the list of links below the introductory country profile text.