Public investment in third-level education in Ireland produces a return that is well above the OECD average.

The OECD's latest Education at a Glance report reveals that men who graduate in Ireland will pay back in increased tax payments and other savings almost six times the amount of public money invested in their education.

This compares to an average of a four-fold return across the OECD.

Women graduates in Ireland also represent greater value for money to the Exchequer than their counterparts elsewhere.

On average, a women who graduates will contribute two-and-a-half times the cost of her third level education. However, that figure rises to three-and-a-half times in Ireland.

Today's figures also show that people with lower levels of educational attainment are more likely to become unemployed.

Meanwhile, the position of Irish universities on a world ranking scale has remained largely static this year.

It follows sharp drops for leading Irish colleges in last year's QS World University Rankings.

Trinity College Dublin has dropped two places from 65th to 67th internationally.

UCD has increased its standing slightly from 134th to 131st place. UCC has fallen nine places to 190th.

NUIG is in 287th place, slightly higher than last year. DCU is in 324th place.

Trinity College’s Dean of Research Professor Professor Vinny Cahill has said that it is positive that new rankings show that the performance of Ireland's institutions has stabilised following a recent downward trend, despite cuts in university funding and grant aid to students.