According to the BBC, Britain was ranked sixth in the world in a recent comprehensive study into global education. Coming in behind South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong and Finland, it was therefore found to be the second best education system in Europe. Finland, first last year, saw a significant slump in their standards which was a trend with all the Scandinavian countries.
The study included international tests into higher education for Pearson by the respected Economist Intelligence Unit and made accurate comparisons between international educational levels. To give an overall accurate view of the standard of education in each country these rankings took into account higher education graduation rates, educational data such as the OECD’s Pisa test, Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (Timss) and Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (Pirls).
British Education – a Long Legacy
Britain has a long tradition of offering excellent standards in education, particularly higher education. The level of teaching, research and resources offered by institutions in the UK are some of the best in the world – in economic terms it’s a very important export for the UK and British institutions work hard with the government to maintain their standing in rankings.
The importance of producing highly skilled graduates and students who are trained in relevant skills for the workplace today and the future is at the forefront of British education. This twinned with dedicated teaching standards makes it a very attractive option for international students.
Strong Asian Results
The areas in which each country was strongest obviously varied. Asian countries such as the ones in the top four in this study (South Korea, Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong) excelled at memory based tests, mathematics and sciences. However, it is believed that certain skills are lacking in their students such as creativity, problem-solving and thinking ‘out of the box’. These attributes are hard to test but are recognised as extremely important skills in the workplace. In this league table, to gain the highest results students would have had to memorise 60 pages of facts out of 100 pages which students in South Korea excelled at; this calls into question how valuable in the long-term this sort of learning is.
The Future of Education
There is a school of thought that with the development of technology there will be less need for teachers. However, we think that technology should not replace teachers, but instead we should be utilising it to share best practice between countries.
Of course, one thing all the successful countries have in common is supportive governments, parents and teachers who are all working together. This good result from the UK should be seen as something to build on and develop a strategy to help institutions share their knowledge internationally. To raise the standards of education internationally Western countries should study successes in Asian countries and vice versa; astute global data organisation and intelligent technology could improve the level of education as a whole.
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Or if you’re on the next step of the educational ladder, have a look at our pick of the best universities in the UK.