Ireland tops the EU for third-level education attainment – Eurostat

26 Apr 2013

Ireland has the highest proportion of young people who have successfully completed third-level education in the EU – that’s according to new figures from the statistical office Eurostat.

The latest figures, published by Eurostat earlier this month, showed that across the 27 EU member states in 2012, 35.8pc of 30-34-year-olds had completed tertiary education. This was compared with 34.6pc in 2011.

However, Ireland would appear to be leading the way, as the figures show that more than half of 30-34-year-olds (51.1pc) have completed third level. Ireland was followed by Cyprus at 49.9pc, Luxembourg at 49.6pc and Lithuania at 48.7pc.

The EU target for 2020 is that at least 40pc of the population in that age group should have higher education qualifications.

Eight member states have already met or exceeded their 2020 national targets for this indicator – Denmark, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Finland and Sweden.

The EU member states with the lowest proportion of those aged between 30 and 34 who had completed tertiary education were Italy (21.7pc), Romania (21.8pc) and Malta (22.4pc).

On average in the 27 member states, a higher proportion of women aged 30-34 had completed tertiary education than men – 40pc compared with 31pc – according to the Eurostat figures. In Ireland, this gender disparity was even higher for this age group, as almost 58pc of Irish women had completed third-level education compared to 44pc of men.

Early school leavers

Another EU education target for 2020 is to reduce the rate of early school leaving to below 10pc in member states.

According to Eurostat, the share of young people leaving school early now stands at 12.8pc on average in the EU, down from 13.5pc in 2011.

Ireland is now one of 12 member states where early school leaving rates are below the 10pc Europe 2020 target, with Ireland having reached this level for the first time.

The other member states that have achieved this target are Slovenia, Austria, Poland, Czech Republic, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Lithuania, Slovakia, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.

The EU Commissioner for Education Androulla Vassiliou said the progress in achieving these education targets is a “positive message” in a time of economic uncertainty.

“The jobs of the future will demand higher qualifications and these figures show that more young people are determined to achieve their full potential. We are also seeing that efforts to improve Europe’s education systems and increase accessibility are paying off,” she said.

The Eurostat figures were compiled as part of the EU Labour Force Survey.

Education image via Shutterstock

Carmel Doyle
By Carmel Doyle

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic. She reported on clean tech, innovation and start-ups, covering everything from renewable energy to electric vehicles, the smart grid, nanotech, space exploration, university spin-outs and technology transfer.

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