OECD Report Links Higher-Education Access With Student Support, Despite Tuition

High tuition costs are not necessarily a deterrent to disadvantaged young people in deciding whether to attend university, so long as widely available student-loan and support programs are also in place, according to a new report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

The finding, which will resonate widely at a time when many governments are discussing whether to raise tuition in their efforts to increase financing for higher education, is among the results in "Education at a Glance 2012: OECD Indicators," the latest edition in an annual series that analyzes education data from the Paris-based group's 34 member countries, which include many European countries as well as Australia, Canada, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, South Korea, and the United States. As in previous years, the compilation also includes data from non-OECD countries, including Argentina, Brazil, China, India, and Russia.

The absence of a correlation between high tuition fees and social mobility was among the report's more surprising results, according to Andreas Schleicher, head of the OECD's Educational Statistics and Analysis Division and the report's main author.

During an online briefing in which he highlighted the report's findings, Mr. Schleicher singled out as the best example of this phenomenon Britain, where tuition rates have increased substantially in recent years and in some parts of the country are tripling this autumn, but which also has a generous student-loan program. Countries in this category, which also includes Australia, Canada, and the United States, have some of the world's highest university enrollment rates, although the figures to some extent also reflect the large numbers of international students these countries attract.

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