The global economic crisis reinforces the importance of a good education, according to the latest edition of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's annual Education at a Glance report.
People with university degrees have suffered far fewer job losses than those who left school without qualifications. Unemployment rates among university graduates stood at 4.4 per cent on average across countries in the OECD in 2009 compared with 11.5 per cent among those who did not complete their secondary education.
Over 50 per cent of 15 to 19-year-olds who are not in education are unemployed or out of the labour force. In most countries, young people not in employment, education or training receive no welfare support. And compared with older age groups, they are twice as likely to give up looking for work.
"Governments therefore need to invest in education. In the long-run, their budgets will benefit from investment in education. The better educated are less likely to need unemployment benefits or welfare assistance, and pay more tax when they enter the job market," said a spokesperson for the OECD.
Over the past three decades, the number of international students has leapt - from 800,000 worldwide in 1975 to 3.7m in 2009.
Australia, the UK, Austria, Switzerland and New Zealand have the highest percentage of international students at tertiary level.