The UK is becoming a 'graduate economy', with more people now likely to have a degree-level qualification than a school-level one.
According to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development's (OECD's) annual Education at a Glance report, the balance has shifted towards a graduate-level workforce.
Some 41 per cent of adults, including 48 per cent of 25 to 34-year-olds, in the UK had earned a tertiary qualification by 2012.
In addition, one in two young women in the UK holds a university-level degree - higher than the tertiary attainment rates among 25-34 year-old women in France (47 per cent), Germany (31 per cent) and the US (48 per cent).
However, despite the rising number of graduates, the OECD has highlighted room for improvement in core skills such as reading and writing.
"On the one hand in the UK you can say qualification levels have risen enormously, lots more people are getting tertiary qualifications - university degrees - but actually not all of that is visible in better skills," said Andreas Schleicher, the OECD's director of education.
A quarter of UK graduates reached the top level of literacy in tests, compared with over a third in Sweden, the Netherlands, Japan and Finland. However, the UK performed better than countries such as France and the US.
According to the report, one in three young adults has a higher level of education than their parents, with fewer than two in ten of this age group having lower levels.
Parental levels of educational attainment have a significant influence on those of their offspring. A person in England and Northern Ireland whose parents have upper secondary education as their level is more than twice as likely to participate in tertiary education as someone whose parents have not attained an upper secondary education.
In addition, someone with parents who are educated to degree level is more than six times as as likely to participate in tertiary education as someone whose parents have not attained upper secondary education.
Posted by Tim Colman