Universities in England charge on average $9,000 (£6,000), which is higher than the fees paid in other developed countries including the United States, Australia and Switzerland.
It is the first time that the OECD has labelled universities in England as the most expensive. The last report, published in 2014, included data on fees for 2011, before the fee increase to £9,000.
Last year’s report showed the UK as the fifth in the world, behind Chile, Korea, America and Japan.
Nearly 50 countries were analysed and, although there is more discrepancy in the United States, with some students paying more than the UK, the UK was revealed as the highest on average.
It follows a radical Government shake up that will allow universities in the UK to raise their fees further, in return for providing high-quality teaching.
However, high tuition fees are accompanied by “well-developed student-support systems”, a new report by the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) showed.
Photo: Jenny Matthews / Alamy
In its report, the OECD said: “As part of a plan to stabilise university finances, tuition fees in England sharply increased in 2012. In parallel, student loan-repayment conditions were improved in order to accommodate the increase in tuition fees.
“As a result, since 1995 the United Kingdom has moved from a system marked by low tuition fees and underdeveloped student-support systems to one that includes high tuition fees and significant public support to students.”
Responding to evidence from the OECD, Sir Peter Lampl, chairman of the Sutton Trust said: “This important international evidence shows that English students pay more for university than their counterparts elsewhere.
“While this has not yet reduced the numbers of poorer young students, it has seen a big fall in numbers of mature part-time students, an important group of access students too often forgotten.
Average tuition fees charged by public institutions
(tuition fees for UK refer to England only)
“These figures should cause the government to avoid steps that could hamper access, including replacing grants for poorer students with loans leaving them more indebted than richer students, cutting widening participation funding, or reducing the independence of the access regulator.”
Separately, the report entitled Education at a Glance 2015, showed the starting salaries of teachers in the UK are some of the lowest in Europe.
The OECD analysis found that England and Scotland fall behind other countries such as Portugal, Ireland and Korea, and are below the OECD average for starting pay.
Andreas Schleicher, OECD director of education and skills, said that, overall, teachers’ salaries are “going backwards in real terms” in Scotland and England.
“Pretty much for the first time in history, the last 10 years have not been so great for teachers in terms of getting more pay,” he said.
“Both Scotland and England are actually going backwards in real terms when you look at the salary between 2005 and 2013.”
This was not the case for most countries, where salaries have gone up in real terms.
The report found the salaries of teachers in England and Scotland are comparatively low at both the start and end of their careers, but when bonuses and allowances are included, they are better remunerated than in most other OECD countries.
After around 10 years of experience, salaries “increase considerably”, but this then slows down again so that with the exception of pre-primary teachers in England, salaries at the top of the scale at all levels of education in England and Scotland are below the OECD average.
The report also found that the UK has some of the largest class sizes of all the countries analysed.
While the OECD average for primary schools was 21, it was 27 in the UK, behind only China (37), Chile (29) and Israel (28).
But in secondary schools the UK, at 20 pupils per teacher, was below the OECD average of 24.[“source-telegraph”]