Education (educ)

Reference Metadata in Euro SDMX Metadata Structure (ESMS)

Compiling agency: Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union

Eurostat metadata
Reference metadata
1. Contact
2. Metadata update
3. Statistical presentation
4.Unit of measure
5. Reference Period
6. Institutional Mandate
7. Confidentiality
8. Release policy
9. Frequency of dissemination
10. Dissemination format
11. Accessibility of documentation
12. Quality management
13. Relevance
14. Accuracy
15. Timeliness and punctuality
16. Comparability
17. Coherence
18. Cost and Burden
19. Data revision
20. Statistical processing
21. Comment
Related Metadata
Annexes (including footnotes)

Eurostat and National Quality Reports according to ESQRS (ESS Standard for Quality Reports Structure)

For any question on data and metadata, please contact: EUROPEAN STATISTICAL DATA SUPPORT


1. Contact Top
1.1. Contact organisation

Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union

1.2. Contact organisation unit

F5: Education, health and social protection

1.5. Contact mail address

2920 Luxembourg LUXEMBOURG

2. Metadata update Top
2.1. Metadata last certified 21/10/2014
2.2. Metadata last posted 21/10/2014
2.3. Metadata last update 21/10/2014

3. Statistical presentation Top
3.1. Data description

The aim of the education statistics domain is to provide comparable statistics and indicators on key aspects of the education systems across Europe. The data cover participation and completion of education programmes by pupils and students, personnel in education and the cost and type of resources dedicated to education.

The standards on international statistics on education and training systems are set by the three international organisations jointly administering the UOE data collection:

  • the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation Institute for Statistics (UNESCO-UIS),
  • the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and,
  • the Statistical Office of the European Union (EUROSTAT).

The following topics are covered:

  • Context - School-aged population, overall participation rates in education
  • Distribution of pupils/students by level
  • Participation/enrolment in education (ISCED 0-4)
  • Tertiary education participation
  • Tertiary education graduates
  • Teaching staff (ISCED 1-3)
  • Pupil/students-teacher ratio and average class size (ISCED 1-3)
  • Language learning (ISCED 1-3)
  • Regional enrolments
  • Expenditure on education in current prices
  • Expenditure on education in constant prices
  • Expenditure on education as % of GDP or public expenditure
  • Expenditure on public and private educational institutions
  • Financial aid to students
  • Funding of education

Other tables, used to measure progress towards the Lisbon objectives in education and training, are gathered in the Thematic indicators tables. They contain the following indicators:

- Teachers and trainers

- Mathematics, science and technology enrolments and graduates

- Investments in education and training

- Participation rates in education by age and sex

- Foreign language learning

- Student mobility

3.2. Classification system

The UOE data collection on education statistics is based on the International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED). 

The full description of ISCED 97 is available here.

3.3. Coverage - sector

Not available

3.4. Statistical concepts and definitions

Countries participating in this collection are compiling their data according to the concepts and definitions of the UOE data collection manuals on education systems statistics. The concepts and definitions are available on this site.

Data and indicators disseminated include e.g. participation rates at different levels of education, enrolments in public and private institutions, tertiary education graduates, pupil-teacher ratios, foreign language learning, expenditure on education per student and relative GDP etc.

The definitions of variables and concepts used are available in the Glossary (See annex at the bottom of the page).

The indicators are most often simple percentages or ratios calculated from variables described in the Glossary. Some indicators may need a further explanation. These are available in the Indicator definitions (See annex at the bottom of the page).

There are country specific notes to all indicator tables (See annex at the bottom of the page).

3.5. Statistical unit

In the UOE data collection on education statistics, the statistical units collected are students enrolled, new entrants and entrants, graduates, foreign students enrolled and graduated, repeaters, educational personnel, class size and expenditure.

In the Eurostat data collection on language learning the statistical unit is enrolments in studies of foreign languages. The Eurostat data collection on regions includes students enrolled by age, sex and ISCED level by NUTS2 regions (See Ramon, Eurostat's classification server for more details on the NUTS).

3.6. Statistical population

The statistics refer to education in the ordinary school and university system, as defined in the International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) (See annex at the bottom of the page). The basic unit of classification in ISCED-97 is the educational programme.

The UOE data collection covers all organised and sustained learning opportunities for children, youth and adults, including those with special educational needs, irrespective of the institutions or organisations providing them or the form in which they are delivered. They cover school-based general education and vocational education/training (including combined school- and work-based programmes such as dual system apprenticeship). Exclusively (initial and continuing) work-based training is not included in the statistics. Programmes or studies designated as 'adult education' or 'continuing education' are included only if the content is similar to regular educational programmes or lead to similar potential qualifications.

The data collection covers all of a country's domestic educational activity (i.e. within its own territory).

3.7. Reference area

The UOE data collection on education statistics covers the 27 EU Member States (Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Greece, Spain, France, Ireland, Italy, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Hungary, Netherlands, Austria, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Slovak Republic, Finland, Sweden and United Kingdom), the EFTA/EEA countries (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland), the candidate countries (Croatia, the FYR of Macedonia and Turkey), South-East European countries (Albania) as well as OECD Member States situated outside Europe (Australia, Canada, Japan, Korea, Mexico, New Zealand, United States) and other countries (e.g. Israel).

The dissemination of education statistics by Eurostat is generally limited to the 27 EU Member States, the EFTA/EEA, Candidate and South-East European countries. Information on OECD Member States situated outside Europe can be provided by OECD.

3.8. Coverage - Time

Data cover mainly the period 1998 and onwards. A few data on enrolments, graduates and finance are available since 1990 or 1995.

3.9. Base period

For expenditure data, the base period is the financial year which is in general identical to the calendar year and thus running from 1st of January to 31st of December. However, there is one noticeable exception: in the United Kingdom the financial year is running from 1st of April to 31st of March.

For graduates, the base period is in general the calendar year and data refer to all graduates during the calendar year, with some exceptions, where graduate data refer to the academic year.

Data on students refer in general to the count on a given date at the beginning of the school/academic year, preferably at the end of the first month. Exceptions may be on pre-primary and tertiary levels of education, where enrolments can be counted as an average over several counting dates or as the count of individuals registered during the reference period. Data on personnel refer in general to a given date at the beginning of the school/academic year.

4. Unit of measure Top

Number of students, graduates, teachers, euros,  etc.

5. Reference Period Top

The reference period is the financial year for expenditure data, the calendar year for data on graduates and the school/academic year for all other non-monetary data (e.g. students enrolled, new entrants etc.).

In the presentations of non-monetary statistics other than on graduates, "1998" stands for school/academic year 1997/98, "1999" for 1998/99 and so on.

6. Institutional Mandate Top
6.1. Institutional Mandate - legal acts and other agreements

The joint UIS/OECD/Eurostat (UOE) data collection on education statistics and the Eurostat data collection on regional enrolments and foreign language learning are carried out in gentlemen's agreement.

The methodological requirements are set up in cooperation with the participating countries, Eurostat and the two organisations. The definitions and methodological requirements are available on this site.

6.2. Institutional Mandate - data sharing

The main source of data is the joint UIS (UNESCO Institute of Statistics)/OECD/Eurostat (UOE) questionnaires on education statistics, which constitute the core database on education.

7. Confidentiality Top
7.1. Confidentiality - policy

Regulation (EC) No 223/2009 on European statistics (recital 24 and Article 20(4)) of 11 March 2009 (OJ L 87, p. 164), stipulates the need to establish common principles and guidelines ensuring the confidentiality of data used for the production of European statistics and the access to those confidential data with due account for technical developments and the requirements of users in a democratic society.

7.2. Confidentiality - data treatment

 Not available

8. Release policy Top
8.1. Release calendar

Data are disseminated on an annual basis, normally during April-May

8.2. Release calendar access

Not available

8.3. Release policy - user access

In line with the Community legal framework and the European Statistics Code of Practice Eurostat disseminates European statistics on Eurostat's website (see item 10 - 'Dissemination format') respecting professional independence and in an objective, professional and transparent manner in which all users are treated equitably. The detailed arrangements are governed by the Eurostat protocol on impartial access to Eurostat data for users.

9. Frequency of dissemination Top


10. Dissemination format Top
10.1. Dissemination format - News release

News releases on-line

10.2. Dissemination format - Publications

Key Data on Education in Europe - 2012 edition

Key data on teaching languages at school in Europe 2012

Trends in European education during last decade (Oct 2011)

Other free publications - See Eurostat's Web site

10.3. Dissemination format - online database

 Please consult free data on-line

10.4. Dissemination format - microdata access

 Not available

10.5. Dissemination format - other

 Eurydice, the information network on education in Europe, publishes in cooperation with Eurostat data and indicators on education in the publications ‘Key Data on Education' and ‘Key Data on languages'

- Internet address:

11. Accessibility of documentation Top
11.1. Documentation on methodology

The International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) is the basis for international education statistics.

The full description of ISCED-97 is available here.

 The definitions and methodological requirements for the joint UOE data collection and for the Eurostat data collection on regional enrolments and foreign language learning are available on this site.

11.2. Quality management - documentation

 Not available

12. Quality management Top
12.1. Quality assurance

Not available

12.2. Quality management - assessment

Not available

13. Relevance Top
13.1. Relevance - User Needs

Not available

13.2. Relevance - User Satisfaction

Not available

13.3. Completeness

Not available

14. Accuracy Top
14.1. Accuracy - overall

Incompleteness of private expenditure on education:

In many countries, private expenditure on education contained in some indicators is not comprehensive. This is in particular true for the payments of other private entities (e.g. firms, non-profit organisations, religious institutions) to educational institutions that are often very difficult to track back through administrative records. This can sometimes result in a significant under-evaluation of private expenditure on education that has to be taken into account when interpreting indicators on education finance statistics.

Influence of effects that are exogenous to the education system on some education finance statistics indicators:

Effects that are exogenous to the education system, but are contained in auxiliary indicators (e.g. Gross Domestic Product, Gross National Income, GDP-Deflator or Purchasing Power Parity) used to calculate indicators on education finance statistics may sometimes bias the interpretation of some indicators (see annex 'Educ - Finance - accuracy' at the bottom of the page).


14.2. Sampling error

Not available

14.3. Non-sampling error

Not available

15. Timeliness and punctuality Top
15.1. Timeliness

Participation, entrants, personnel, language learning: 2 years after end of the reference period.

Graduates: 1.5 years after end of the reference period.

Finance: 2.5 years after end of the reference period

15.2. Punctuality

 Not available

16. Comparability Top
16.1. Comparability - geographical

 The education systems differ between countries. The ISCED classification makes it possible to compare educational levels in spite of these differences, but the differences may nevertheless affect certain figures.

The degree structures differ between countries. To which extent students qualify for and receive more than one qualification differs between the countries, as well as the length of studies to obtain a degree. In the data collection, the unduplicated number of graduates is collected as well as graduates by field of study and length of studies. Duplications may occur. Indicators on tertiary graduates by fields of study are therefore affected by differences in countries' degree structures.

In indicators on participation rates, enrolment statistics are related to population statistics. The reference date for ages is the same (1st of January) but differences in data collection dates or methodologies may result in slight differences, which affect the participation rates. Percentages above 100 percent can be due to such differences, but can also appear because of inflows or outflows of students. The enrolment statistics refer to all education enrolments within the country while population statistics refer to residents in the country. In some countries, where the outflow of students is substantial (Luxembourg, Cyprus), specific notes are added in the tables, but other countries' figures may also be affected.

Ambiguities of classification with regards to levels of government:

The classification of governments by level is clear in most cases, but there are some ambiguities. If a country only has two levels of government, the lower level usually is designated local, not regional. If there are four or more levels, the second level usually is designated regional and the third, local. If a city (such as the national capital) has dual status as both regional and local government, its expenditure is reported as expenditure of regional level of government (e.g. the Stadtstaaten Hamburg, Bremen and Berlin in Germany).

16.2. Comparability - over time


Changes in the UOE2005 data collection which influence comparisons over time:

The UOE2005 revision involved a few changes which influenced comparisons over time. The main changes referred to new data collections on enrolments in specifically designed adult education programmes, on student mobility, on new entrants to ISCED 6 and on entrants to ISCED 5-6 by field of education and training. Changes influencing comparisons over time were:

- A requirement of a minimum duration of one semester for programmes to be included in the UOE reporting was introduced. No data on students, personnel or finance should be included for programmes of shorter duration than one semester (nationally defined). The change influenced however very little the data reported as almost all countries had no or had not reported such programmes in previous years.

- Data on graduates by fields of education and training were changed to include data on graduations by fields of education and training, that is, graduates who awarded more than one degree in different fields should be reported in each of the fields (in previous years, these graduates should be reported only once and pro-rated over the fields). More than one graduation within the same field (broad field or narrow field) should however be reported only once. Also this change affected data in very few countries as multiple graduations in different fields the same reference year are negligible in most countries.

17. Coherence Top
17.1. Coherence - cross domain

 Indicators on Education and training are also disseminated in the Eurostat Reference Database under "Main tables", Education and training.

Data and indicators on education, where the data source is the joint UOE data collection, are also published by OECD and UIS.

The main OECD publication, 'Education at a Glance', is published on this site.

Access to UIS' database and tables.

17.2. Coherence - internal

 Not available

18. Cost and Burden Top

 Not available

19. Data revision Top
19.1. Data revision - policy

 A major revision of the UOE data collection on education statistics occurred in the reference year 1998, when the revision of the ISCED classification was implemented, and in 1999, when a major revision of the concepts and definitions of UOE financial data was introduced. Time-series beyond 1998 are therefore rare.

The next important revision occurred in 2005 and became effective in the data in the reference year 2003 for data on expenditure, in year 2004 for graduate data and in school/academic year 2003/04 for other non-monetary data. The major changes are described in "Notes" (21.1).

19.2. Data revision - practice

 Data are considered of sufficient quality and as final when they are released in Eurostat Reference Database.

They may however still be subject to revisions.

If substantial changes in methodology will occur, these changes will be explained with the first release of data affected by such changes.

20. Statistical processing Top
20.1. Source data

 The main source of data is the joint UIS (UNESCO Institute of Statistics)/OECD/Eurostat (UOE) questionnaires on education statistics, which constitute the core database on education. The UOE data collection is an administrative data collection that is administered jointly by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation - Institute for Statistics (UNESCO-UIS), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and the Statistical Office of the European Union (EUROSTAT). Data on regional enrolments and foreign language learning are collected additionally by Eurostat.

Commission Regulation No 88/2011 regarding statistics on education and training systems is the EU legal base covering the above mentioned data. 2012 was the first year of application of the Regulation. The first data provided according to that Regulation refers to the school academic year 2010/2011 and, as far as data on education expenditure are concerned, to the financial year 2010. Data for previous years were reported on a voluntary basis from countries (i.e. so called gentlemen's agreement).

The results of the UOE data collection on education statistics are compiled on the basis of national administrative sources, reported by Ministries of Education or National Statistical Offices.

Countries provide data, coming from administrative records, on the basis of commonly agreed definitions.

The national data collections on enrolments, graduates, personnel etc. are in most countries census or in some cases extractions from administrative registers.

Moreover, auxiliary indicators from statistics on demography (e.g. population) or the National Accounts (e.g. Gross Domestic Product, Total Public Expenditure) are used to calculate some of the indicators.

20.2. Frequency of data collection


20.3. Data collection

Data are collected through data collection tables in electronic questionnaires that are returned by countries to a unique e-mail address ( EU, EFTA and Candidate countries should use eDAMIS for sending the data that will be automatically forwarded to the unique e-mail address mentioned above. Afterwards Eurostat makes all data available to OECD and UNESCO via a restricted CIRCABC space. The international organisations process and verify the data after their reception.

20.4. Data validation

 Since 2012, first year of application of Commission Regulation No 88/2011, there is a joint data validation made by Eurostat and OECD on the data transmitted by the 24 countries that are both EU or EFTA, and OECD members. Each organisation validates the data for the remaining member countries. The validated data are shared between the three organisations.

20.5. Data compilation

European aggregates in absolute figures are in most cases disseminated only if data are available for all countries. In some cases, the aggregates are estimated by for example imputing data for previous years.

European averages are computed by adding up the data provided by the countries. They are calculated taking into account all relevant countries for which data are available. They are considered of sufficient quality if countries with available data exceed 70% of the population or of the GDP of the European aggregate.

Data on educational expenditure are compiled on a cash accounting rather than an accrual accounting basis as many countries use this system to record government expenditure and revenues. Expenditure is recorded in the year in which the payments occurred. This means in particular that:

  • Capital acquisitions are counted fully in the year in which the expenditure occurs;
  • Depreciation of capital assets is not recorded as expenditure, though repairs and maintenance expenditure is recorded in the year it occurs;

Expenditure on student loans is recorded as the gross loan outlays in the year in which the loans are made, without netting-off repayments from existing borrowers

20.6. Adjustment

Enrolment data are adjusted to the reference period of the financial year, by weighting the school years overlapping the financial year. These adjusted enrolment data are then used in combination with financial data to calculate financial indicators that are related to enrolment (e.g. expenditure per pupil/student).

Adjustments of educational expenditure figures are made when the financial year is not corresponding to the calendar year in order to ensure full comparability of the indicators across countries. The adjustment method is varying depending on the indicator on education finance statistics. Information about adjustments, if necessary, is provided through specific footnotes.

21. Comment Top

 Not available

Related metadata Top

Annexes Top