Key Data on Education in Europe 2012


MAIN FINDING (January 2012)

Key Data on Education in Europe makes a valuable contribution to the debate on education policy at both European and national level and helps to monitor progress on the strategic framework. Based on data collected through the Eurydice network, Eurostat and the PISA international survey, the report provides standardised and readily comparable quantitative and qualitative indicators which offer a wide-ranging overview of the organisation and functioning of European education systems. It examines in particular areas of special importance for European cooperation – such as participation in compulsory education, tertiary education attainment and transition to the labour market, investment in education and quality assurance – and thus provides an insight into the ways in which countries are responding to common challenges in education.

The present edition of Key Data on Education analyses the developments in European education systems over the last decade. The various chapters in this publication cover many of the priority areas for European cooperation in education and training (ET 2020) as well as the broader European strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth over the coming decade (EU 2020).

This Key Data report shows that structural and organisational reforms to education systems have been implemented with a view to reducing early school-leaving rates and, in some cases, to ensure that all students obtain a certificate of basic education. The most significant reform in this area is the extension of compulsory schooling in some countries. A further organisational trend that emerges from the study is an overall high level of autonomy for schools and local level authorities to manage financial and human resources  a similar trend is also evident in the management of academic staff in higher education.

The development of quality assurance systems is an important lever for achieving the strategic objective of improved educational quality and efficiency, consequently, the quality of education is increasingly being evaluated across Europe. The focus of this evaluation may be the education system as a whole, or it may be individual schools or teachers. Moreover, European countries have adopted varied and contrasting policies related to school accountability based on student performance.

In the majority of countries, investment in education has remained largely unchanged during the last decade up until 2008 just before the economic downturn. In response to the crisis, some governments have taken specific steps to ensure that existing funding levels have not been changed in order to guarantee the continued functioning of the system and to safeguard the reforms implemented over the last decade.

The professional development of teachers and school heads is a key factor in ensuring successful outcomes for students. This report shows that many countries intended to improve the education and training of teachers and to provide them with the necessary support for their teaching. However, it is also clear that efforts must be increased to attract more suitably qualified people to the profession and to combat the teacher shortages that may face many European countries in the future.

Finally, the proportion of young people aged 20-24 and 30-34 who have completed tertiary education has continued to increase; for the latter group, the proportion has been expanding steadily since 2000. However, young people’s entry into the labour market is a concern in many countries since it has been detrimentally affected by the economic crisis. The results show that a growing number of young people appear to be overqualified for the type of employment they find. This suggests the need for more efficient forecasting of the short- and long-term needs of the labour market with a view to providing reliable educational and careers guidance to students so that improvements can be made in matching young people’s educational qualifications with actual employment opportunities.

Quelle: Eurodyce / eurostat