Mandatory primary education and emphasis on preschoolEducation generally follows the same trajectory in the five Nordic countries and is comprised of mandatory primary school time of nine or ten years, followed by optional upper secondary and higher education. Most schools and education institutions are public, and the vast majority of pupils and students are admitted in public institutions. Yet both the number of private schools and pupils in private schools in Norway increased over the past years. Moreover, there is a strong emphasis on pre-primary education in the countries to facilitate female employment. Despite these commonalities, however, the education systems are not identical. For example, Sweden offers one year of optional so-called preschool class the year before children enter primary education. Moreover, elementary school in Norway is divided into several stages. The countries also follow different national curriculums, which cannot be deviated from.
Upper secondary and higher educationAfter finishing their primary education, most people in the Nordic countries move on to do an upper secondary education, which is optional. This is usually divided between general programs, preparing the students for further higher education, and vocational programs. Furthermore, as the number of immigrants in all five countries increased over the past years in the Nordic countries, so has the share of immigrants in upper secondary education, which could be observed in Sweden.
More and more people in the Nordic countries move on to study at a university, as observed through the educational attainment levels in the countries. However, the total number of university students still fluctuated in some of the countries over the past years. Moreover, many students decide to study abroad, with the United Kingdom a favorite destination among many. Some students also decide to study in other Nordic countries. Over the years, several cooperation agreements have been implemented between the the Nordic countries in order to make it easier to study in neighboring countries.