The article measures the relative efficiency of government spending on higher education in selected new EU member states (with special focus on Croatia and Slovenia) in comparison to selected OECD countries. The article applies a non-parametric approach, i.e. data envelopment analysis (DEA), to assess the relative technical efficiency of higher education across selected countries. When estimating the efficiency frontier we focus on measures of quantities outputs/outcomes. The results show that the relatively high public expenditure per student in Croatia should have resulted in a better performance regarding the outputs/outcomes, i.e. a higher rate of higher education school enrolment, a greater rate of labor force with a higher education and a lower rate of the unemployed who have tertiary education. On the other hand, regardless of the input-output/outcome mix, the higher education system in Slovenia is shown to have a much higher level of efficiency compared to both Croatia and many other comparable new EU member states and OECD countries.