Top 20 Countries with the Best Higher Education System in the World

Education is of paramount importance to an individual as well as society. No matter which region or country we are living in, we must preserve our education system so that it helps us in preserving our knowledge.

Education System

Education helps an individual to grab a basic understanding of civilization and their role as a civilian.

But as the geographical region differ, the education system in different countries differs.

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Therefore, in this article, we will get a brief glimpse of 20 such different education systems of the present world and their ranking through a yearly poll.

Note: The list is prepared by considering some factors like developed education system for the public, quality of basic and higher education and rate of students attending university.

Below is a list of 20 education systems in the world.

Sl no The country with Top Education Systems
1 Finland
2 Japan
3 South Korea
4 Denmark
5 Russia
6 Norway
7 United Kingdom
8 Israel
9 Sweden
10 Hongkong
11 Netherlands
12 Belgium 
13 Germany
14 China
15 Singapore 
16 Portugal
17 Hungary
18 Estonia
19 France
20 United States

The list of 20 Education Systems

1. Finland

best education system

The title is yet to be official; however, according to a survey made recently, Finland has the world’s best education system. The country has been in the limelight since the year 2000 and successfully made into the year 2018.


In fact, when five new parameters were added in the year 2017 for the categorization of best education systems worldwide, Finland managed to perform well and gave a strong competition to South Korea and Japan. The country ranked higher on indicators, like;

  • Teachers to student ratio
  • Number of passing students in primary schools
  • Number of passing students in secondary schools

Power Ranking score: 114

Why does Finland rank as the Top Education System in the World?

  • Finland offers free education to citizens with no dead ends.
  • The country has been a top performer on every program for International Student Assessment Survey.
  • Finland follows American education research and philosophers.(Ex: John Dewey), and are inspired by them

The education system of Finland is celebrated in great esteem and is considered as one of the best education systems in the world. For years, this country outperformed the United States in science, math, and reading.

What are the Major Principles outlaying Finland’s Education System?

There are a couple of facts behind this:

  • They have shorter school days(190 days per year)
  • There are certain core principles underlying the education system of Finland
  • Students are free to choose their educative path

Let’s see how the Education System works in Finland

Finland’s early education system is laid around the concept of learning through play.  Until the age of 6, students aren’t required to attend schools.

They provide basic education when the child turns 7. For the next nine years, they follow a single structure education. They take special steps to revise and revamp their curriculum to meet the needs of each individual.

The Finnish National Agency for Education promotes self-evaluation for both teachers and schools to help them improve them.   Also, Finland does not incorporate national standardized testing but they do evaluations for testing learning outcomes.  One of the other striking features is the free meals.

The upper secondary education is split into two- General and Vocational.

In general education, students have all the freedom to choose their study schedules and in the end, they need to attend a matriculation exam. And these scores are counted for their college applications.

Vocational education is job focused whereas school learning and apprenticeships go hand in hand. Students achieve competence-based qualifications after this.

Higher secondary education is also completely free. Students need to pay only for their books, transportation, and other school supplies.

The colleges of Finland are divided into two- Universities and Universities of applied sciences.

The Universities in Finland, focus on applied sciences, whereas, the Universities of applied sciences stress on practical applications.

How is Finland able to provide universal and comprehensive education to all citizens?

The Finnish people value education and put their time to build a system that adheres to the best education research.

2. Japan

best education system

Like Finland, Japan has also maintained its second position for three years. Despite such tough competition by South Korea and other countries, it has been bragging the second position without fail. The main indicator contributing to its success has been – development of an understanding of students between the age of 5 to 14.

Power Ranking score: 104


3. South Korea

best education system

South Korea has been a three-time winner of poll (World’s 20 education systems), and it has successfully earned the third position every time. It has given a strong competition to Japan for the second position.

After Japan, only South Korea has worked well in the sector of bringing immense development in students in the age of 5 to 14 years. As per surveyors, the country would have been a strong contender for the 2nd position, but a few indicators made it lose.

A few indicators which denied South Korea second position in the poll are-

  • Fall in test scores of high school students (calculated annually)
  • Fall in test scores of graduation students (calculated annually)

Power Ranking score: 101

4. Denmark

best education system

Denmark has never been a celebrated country for its ranking in the poll yet it has been known for its developed education system among elites.

Earlier, Denmark was on position 8, but due to passing the five newly included indicators, it has taken a giant leap from 8th position to 4th.

The indicator that helped Denmark to jump on the 4th position is – increased teacher-to-student ration for secondary and primary schools.

Power Ranking score: 94

5. Russia

best education system

No matter Russia has gained the 5th position, yet it should be applauded for being in the top 5 countries with the world’s best education system. Russia’s education system is known for preparing students’ workspace ready. It also has a good teacher-to-student ratio.

If we talk in numbers, then Russia has a ratio of 1 teacher to 9 students approximately.

Power Ranking score: 91

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6. Norway

best education system

Norway was in the 16th position in the earlier quarter. However, with certain changes in its education system, it has jumped ten positions and successfully landed in the 6th position. If we talk about its teacher-to-student ratio than it is ‘1 teacher to 10 students approximately.’

It has competed well with Russia and Japan in terms of teacher-to-student ratio.

Power Ranking score: 82

7. The United Kingdom

best education system in the world

Although this country would have been a great competitor to all the five-pointers in the list, yet current clashes between government and teachers have made it fall back on the 7th position.

The United Kingdom could get better if the government prudently handles the current situations like giving better wages to teachers, enhanced classroom support to students, and rendering each class with modern educational facilities.

Power Ranking score: 78

8. Israel

best education system in the world

No matter Israel is kept on 8th position in terms of the education system, it ranks second in terms of the better upbringing of kids and a developed childhood. If we compare the development with yesteryears, people can gather immense changes and betterment.

The enrolment rate in primary schools and graduation has increased a lot, but still, it could not help Israel to grab a position in top 5 until the next year.

Power Ranking score: 77

9. Sweden

best education system in the world

Like its other Nordic mates, Finland, Norway, and Denmark, Sweden has really performed well to keep the pace.

Its progress in the field of education has been impressive from 2015 to 2018. In terms of increased enrolment of students age between 15 to 18, it has ranked third among the countries.

However, it still has to work hard to improve its world’s top-ranking to get in the first five.

Power Ranking score: 75

10. Hong Kong

best education system in the world

If we take account of the last year’s poll of the world’s top 20, then Hong Kong was in 14th position. It has really worked hard on prime indicators and managed to reach the top 10.

The indicator that helped Hong Kong lift its position is – higher enrolment rate of primary age students.

If it works out on enrolment of all age students and their passing test scores then, it could even raise its position and get counted among the top 5.

Power Ranking score: 70

11. Netherland

best education system in the world

Unfortunately, Netherland has lost one spot and dropped from 10th position to 11th. The reason behind its negative acceleration is decreased international test scores in subjects like science, Maths, and reading.

If the country works on this indicator along with others, then it could possibly regain its former position.

Power Ranking score: 67

12. Belgium

best education system in the world

With the most complex education system, including three different communities like Flemish, German and French, Belgium shines on 11th position.

During annual surveys, it secured a 4th and 9th position for teacher-to-student ratio and 5th position for increased enrolment of students’ primary and secondary age in school.

To score a position in top 20s, Belgium has to work hard with two primary indicators,

1) students’ enrolment rates and, 2) teachers-to-students ratio.

Power Ranking score: 65


13. Germany

best education system in the world

Germany is known for its social and economic justice worldwide. The country has worked hard to reach the top 10 but couldn’t due to a lack of improvement in a few indicators in the last two years.

Currently, the country is fighting to retain a position in the top 10 but it couldn’t until it brings desired changes in the education system.

Power Ranking score: 63

14. China

best education system in the world

No doubt china’s employment rate is pretty high, but still, this factor could not make the country bag a secured position in the list of top 10 this year.

It was in position 9 in the year 2016, but it failed to repeat the same in 2017. Since then, China is improving its education system to get it a position among top 10 countrieṣ.

The only thing which could help China is improving the enrolment rates of students at early age.

Power Ranking score: 62

15. Singapore


Known as the world’s best test-taking country, Singapore had ranked highest in primary and secondary international tests in subjects like Maths, science, and reading in the year 2016.

Later, the score somewhere settled and made the country struggle to get the highest position back. They failed to achieve two indicators, enrolment of students of primary and secondary ages, and international test scores in maths, science and reading.

A good investment in the education sector could make this country shine again and grab a position among the top 10.

Power Ranking score: 57

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16. Portugal


Portugal has always shown a pendulum movement between below average, average, and good.

In 2018, the country was predicted to secure a position in the top 20, but it failed. However, this year, the country not only entered the top-20 list, it even secured the 16th position which is comparably good.

In terms of better enrolment rates of primary and secondary ages, it ranks 2nd highest. If it works hard, it could make it into top 15 soon.

Power Ranking score: 54

17. Hungary


Last year, Hungary secured the 20th position, but this year, it managed to jump three ranks up. If Hungary maintains its highest teachers-to-students ratio in secondary school, there are chances that it could finish in the top 15.

The only indicator, Hungary is unable to fulfill, is higher graduation rates.

Balancing higher graduation rates could slip Hungary to top 15.

Power Ranking score: 52

18. Estonia


Out of Northern Europe, Estonia is an 8th country to grab a rank. In 2018, it failed to grab even a position in the top 20 whereas, this year, it managed to get the 18th position.

If the country works a little on indicators like higher enrolment rates of primary and secondary school students and higher international test scores, it could grab a better position this year.

The only helping indicator in its growth is – a higher completion rate of primary school students.

Power Ranking score: 50

19. France


Having the highest enrolment rate of early childhood made France stay in the top 20 last year.

If it works hard and continues to invest wisely in the education system, it could retain its position successfully in top 20.

As the present government is taking extra care and investing in the educational system, it could secure a position in the top 10 by the year 2020.

Power Ranking score: 50

20. The United States

Because of the transition in the State’s government, it has to stay put at the 20th position. In the last year, it had secured 7th position but catastrophically failed to maintain it in this year.

The indicators are suggesting that the United States will either get its position back or jump a position backward.

Power Ranking score: 47

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Wrapping up

The listing of above World’s Top 20 Education System has been done on certain parameters and recently carried surveys worldwide. If you have any take on the above listing, do tell us by commenting.