Posted Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2012, at 12:08 PM
I mocked the last OECD chart I saw, but this one above is pretty interesting. Those of us who've traveled or have European friends are aware of the stylized fact that college is much cheaper abroad than in the United States but that fact turns out to mask substantial diversity in approaches. In the cluster of OECD countries in the bottom left corner of the chart, headline tuition is much lower than in the USA but there's also much less availability of financial aid. In the Nordic countries they keep tuition very low and disburse very generous financial aid. Their survey suggests that the Anglophone model built on high tuition and generous aid is associated with higher levels of college achievement than the bottom-left Continental model of cheap schools and stingy aid.
At the same time, it's striking to me that you need to scale the axes of the chart in a particular way to even generate the finding that the U.S. and New Zealand are in the same cluster. The gap in tuition being charged across those two countries is enormous, particularly when you consider that the possibilities for mobility of both instructors and students across Anglophe countries. It looks like Americans could reap giant savings by enrolling in New Zealand universities.