Education in Europe - Statistics & Facts

Education plays a vital role in the economic and social context of Europe. As of 2015, the illiteracy rate among adults in Europe and Central Asia amounted to only 1.9 percent. The average person in the European Union is expected to undertake 17.6 years of education over their lifetime.

In the European Union as of 2012, the United Kingdom had the highest number of pupils per class (25.1), while Lithuania had the smallest number with 15.2 pupils per class. Accordingly, Lithuania had the lowest ratio of pupils to teachers, with an average of 8.1 students per teacher.

Each country in Europe has its own individual education system, but every system can be inserted in the International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED), a statistical framework maintained by UNESCO. Primary education (elementary education) is the first stage of compulsory education, followed by lower secondary education. In 2014, a total of 1.7 million pupils were enrolled in lower secondary schools in Italy.

According to Eurostat, 76.3 percent of individuals in the European Union aged 25 years and over had attained a upper secondary or tertiary education. In Finland, for example, 87.9 percent of individuals aged 25 and over attained such a level of education.

Europe is home to some of the most prestigious universities in the world. The highest ranked European University in 2014-2015 was the University of Oxford, followed by the University of Cambridge. In 2012, 205.6 thousand students from other EU, EEA and candidate countries went to study at universities in the United Kingdom.

Europe is also home of the Erasmus Programme, a European Union student exchange programme established in 1987. In 2015, the University of Granada was the most chosen university in Spain by Italian Erasmus students, while in the same year roughly 1,100 Dutch students were studying at the KU Leuven in Belgium.

Concerning public expenditure on education in the European Union, in 2011 spending was estimated to reach 663 billion PPP (Purchasing Power Standard). In 2013, about 78,654 U.S. dollars were spent on each student in Luxembourg. For higher education, Sweden ranked first with a spending of 20.17 thousand U.S. dollars per student.

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Education in the new EU member states (EU13)
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