Education systems in Europe
The UK is in second place among European countries and sixth overall in a global education league table.
South Korea is top, with three other Asian countries and Finland making up the top five, in rankings from education and publishing firm, Pearson.
The rankings include higher education as well as international school tests - which boosted the UK's position.
Pearson chief executive John Fallon highlighted the economic importance of improving education and skills.
These latest international comparisons, compiled for Pearson by the Economist Intelligence Unit, emphasise the success of Asian education systems, with South Korea, Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong in China rated as the highest performing.
But it shows a strong performance from the UK, which is ranked sixth, behind only Finland in Europe and ahead of countries such as Germany, France and the United States.Finns no longer flying
It also records the rise of Poland, which has been hailed for reforming its post-Communist education system and sits in the top 10.
TOP 20 EDUCATION SYSTEMS
- 1. South Korea
- 2. Japan
- 3. Singapore
- 4. Hong Kong
- 5. Finland
- 6. UK
- 7. Canada
- 8. Netherlands
- 9. Ireland
- 10. Poland
- 11. Denmark
- 12. Germany
- 13. Russia
- 14. United States
- 15. Australia
- 16. New Zealand
- 17. Israel
- 18. Belgium
- 19. Czech Republic
- 20. Switzerland
Source: Pearson/ Economist Intelligence Unit
These rankings are based upon an amalgamation of international tests and education data - including the OECD's Pisa tests, and two major US-based studies, Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (Timss) and Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (Pirls).
They also include higher-education graduation rates, which helped the UK to a much higher position than in Pisa tests, which saw the UK failing to make the top 20.
The UK's Business Secretary Vince Cable said: "The UK has a global reputation for excellence in higher education, attracting overseas students who make huge economic and cultural contribution to Britain.