What you can do with a college degree upon graduation depends on where you're from, according  Université de Montréal professor of education Jake Murdoch. In some parts of the world diplomas from elite universities can practically guarantee employment and salary conditions, and in others--not so much. This is referred to as the "establishment effect."

The conclusion is based on two large pan-European studies addressing the relationship between higher education and employment, which surveyed 36,000 graduates from 12 European countries. The next step, Murdoch says, is to conduct a similar study in North America.

And although the North American survey has yet to begin, Murdoch has observed differences in education practices in one region versus another, notably in Quebec and the rest of Canada. In Quebec, says critical thinking and the ability to synthesize sometimes lack. Graduates struggle when asked to summarize their expertise in just a few words, for instance, although the question is routinely asked of PhD students.

Another Quebec phenomenon to affect education is the feminization of the student body. "With a classroom of young women, we must often push harder to spark debates and exchange opinions," says Murdoch. Compare that to Finland, where dynamics are different. "Classes also include many women yet are more animated and lively."

Murdoch also found Quebec students get high marks compared to students from around the world. "Quebec university students who get C's are rare as compared to their European peers," says Murdoch.