http://eacea.ec.europa.eu/education/eurydice/img/covers/134EN.jpgKey Data on Education in Europe 2012: HIGHLY EDUCATED PEOPLE HAVE BETTER EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES BUT MANY TERTIARY GRADUATES ARE NOW OVERQUALIFIED FOR THEIR POSTS  
Chiffres clés de l'éducation en Europe 2012 est une publication phare d'Eurydice retraçant les principaux développements des systèmes éducatifs européens au cours de la dernière décennie.

Le rapport combine des données statistiques avec des informations qualitatives pour décrire l'organisation, la gestion et le fonctionnement de 37 systèmes éducatifs européens, de l'éducation préprimaire à l'enseignement supérieur. Plus précisément, les 95 indicateurs inclus dans le rapport abordent les thèmes suivants: le contexte démographique, les structures éducatives, la participation, les ressources, le personnel enseignant et de gestion, les processus éducatifs et les niveaux de qualification, et la transition vers le marché de l'emploi.
Par rapport à l'édition précédente, la version 2012 de Chiffres clés de l'éducation a été améliorée par l'insertion de séries temporelles plus longues, rendant plus facile l'identification de développements spécifiques affectant divers aspects des systèmes éducatifs et l'analyse de la situation actuelle au regard du passé.
Chiffres clés de l'éducation 2012 est une publication conjointe avec Eurostat et est basée sur des données rassemblées par les unités nationales du réseau Eurydice, Eurostat, et l'enquête internationale PISA 2009. Rapport complet. L'essentiel. Communniqué de presse européen.
MAIN FINDINGS

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.
In the next paragraphs, the main findings of the report are grouped in six major areas.
EDUCATION STRUCTURES AND ORGANISATION: TREND TOWARDS LONGER PARTICIPATION IN EDUCATION

- A general trend towards longer compulsory schooling to guarantee the acquisition of core competences has been observed in almost all education systems since 1980. In ten countries, the start of compulsory education has been brought forward by one year (or even two in the case of Latvia). At the other end of the scale, thirteen countries extended the duration of full-time compulsory education by one or two years, and by three years in Portugal following recent reforms (see Figure B2).
- Children start formal education at an increasingly early age. Over the period 2000 to 2009, on average in the EU-27, the participation rates of 3-year-old, 4-year-old and 5-year-old children in pre-primary or primary education increased by 15.3, 7 and 6.3 percentage points respectively, reaching around 77%, 90% and 94% in 2009. The participation of 3-year olds in pre-primary education was almost comprehensive in Belgium, Denmark, Spain, France and Iceland in 2009, reaching more than 95% (see Figure C2).
- An even distribution of students exists between general education and vocational programmes at upper secondary level. At the EU-27 level, between 2000 and 2009, the proportion of students in general education as a percentage of all students in upper secondary education increased by 5.5 percentage points, reaching 50.4% in 2009. This can be partly explained by the requirements for a general education certificate rather than a vocational certificate for continuing university studies. Male participation in vocational education was higher in almost all European countries (see Figure C5).
- Most 15-year-olds in Europe attend schools with large numbers of students. In comparison with 2003, in half of all the countries examined, the mean school size increased by 50 to 100 students. However a decrease of more than 70 students per school can be seen in Belgium (Germanspeaking Community), Austria and Poland. As a general tendency, between 2003 and 2009 student numbers in the group of very large schools fell slightly (see Figure B6).
- In 2009, across Europe, the student/teacher ratio in primary education was 14:1, and 12:1 in secondary education. Since 2000, the ratio has declined in two thirds of countries by an average of two pupils per teacher in primary education and by one pupil in secondary education. In the same period, the regulations on the upper limits of class sizes were not modified significantly (see Figures F8, F9 and F10).
- In 2009, almost 90 % of 17-year-old Europeans were still in education, and post-compulsory participation rates in education have improved or remained stable during the last ten years. Bulgaria, Malta and Romania, the three countries with the lowest participation rates one and two years after the end of compulsory schooling in 2000, were among the countries with the most significant improvement during the last decade. However, in 2009, one year after the end of compulsory education the participation rate in those countries was still less than 80 % (see Figures C6 and C7).
- During the period 2000-2009, on average in the EU-27, the tertiary education population increased by around 22% (2.7% annual growth rate), reaching almost 19.5 million individuals in 2009. In the European Union, on average, 124 women were enrolled in tertiary education for every 100 men. Since 2000, the number of women students increased by almost 10% with a constant annual rate (see Figures C9 and C11).
HIGH LEVELS OF AUTONOMY FOR SCHOOLS AND HIGHER EDUCATION INSTITUTIONS

- Despite a general trend for increasing school autonomy in Europe, there are still significant differences between countries. Whilst around a third of countries grant a high degree of autonomy to schools for managing financial and human resources, in a small group of countries – Germany, Greece, France (primary education), Cyprus, Luxembourg (primary education), Malta and Turkey – schools have very limited or no freedom in this area (see Figure B13).
- Autonomy is more likely to be given to schools in some areas than in others. Schools generally have more autonomy for managing their operational expenditure than capital expenditure, and decisions about the management of teaching staff are usually taken at school level while those relating to the post of school head are very often under the control of a higher level education authority (see Figure B13).
- The school admissions process is becoming more flexible. While students in public schools are generally allocated to a specific school, in an increasing number of countries parents may request an alternative school either at the start of the admissions process or when a proposed school has reached its maximum enrolment capacity (see Figure B5).
- The compulsory core curriculum is defined at central level in all countries either in terms of it basic content or as goals to be achieved. However, schools have much more freedom in everyday education activities, such as the choice of teaching methods and textbooks, the grouping of pupils for learning activities and the setting of internal assessment (see Figure B13). Within schools, teachers are more often involved in decisions on teaching methods, setting internal assessment criteria and the choice of textbooks than on decisions about pupil grouping (see Figure B14).
- There is a growing autonomy for schools to decide how to distribute annual taught time between subjects. In many countries, the official recommendations on taught time envisage a shorter learning period at the beginning of primary education (generally for the first two years), then the number of hours steadily increases through the period of compulsory education, with a significant increase in the later stages of secondary education (see Figures F1, F2 and F3).
- Increased institutional autonomy can also be seen in higher education for the management of academic staff. Nevertheless, central authorities in the great majority of countries are still responsible for defining the categories of staff and their related qualifications as well as basic salary levels. In a dozen countries or regions, these elements are defined jointly between central and institutional levels. Institutions themselves are almost completely responsible for the evaluation and promotion of academic staff (see Figure E18).
- Central or regional authorities share powers with Higher education institutions in setting student numbers in tertiary education and in many counties institutions organise their own student selection procedures (see Figures E19 and E20).
QUALITY ASSURANCE SYSTEMS IN PLACE OR UNDER DEVELOPMENT IN ALL COUNTRIES

- Both school and teacher evaluation have been given more importance over recent years. In the vast majority of countries, schools are evaluated externally, generally by an inspectorate, and internally by school staff and sometimes other members of the school community. Individual teacher evaluation has been introduced or strengthened recently in several countries (Belgium [Flemish Community], Portugal, Slovenia and Liechtenstein), sometimes in the framework of a general performance evaluation system for all public bodies (see Figure B7).
- The majority of countries use students' results in external tests together with findings from school evaluation procedures in order to monitor the performance of their education systems (see Figure B12). More than half of European countries administer national tests to pupils that aim primarily to monitor the school and education system performance (see Figure F16).
- The routine publication of school results in national tests is not the norm in Europe although this does occur in a minority of countries, and several others allow schools to decide this matter for themselves. In Belgium (French Community), Spain and Slovenia, official documents prohibit the ranking of schools on the basis of their national test results (see Figure B9).
GREATER EFFORT NEEDED TO ATTRACT MORE PEOPLE TO THE TEACHING PROFESSION

- With the Bologna reforms in higher education, the minimum qualification and length of training for teachers has changed. Most countries now require a Bachelor’s degree as the minimum entry qualification for becoming a pre-primary teacher or its equivalent. For prospective primary teachers, the minimum qualification has increased so that in nine countries a Master's level degree is required and this usually takes five years to complete (see Figure E2).
- Support measures for new teachers have become more widespread. While in 2002/03 only 14 countries offered formal assistance under central regulations or recommendations, in 2010/11, 21 countries reported that central guidance on support measures for new teachers existed. These measures include, in particular, regular discussions of progress and problems and assistance with the planning of lessons and student assessment. In several countries schools have fully autonomy to decide which types of support they will provide (see Figure E4).
- According to the latest PISA results, many students in Europe are being taught in schools where teaching is hindered by a lack of qualified teachers in the core subjects (language of instruction, mathematics and science). In Germany, the Netherlands and Turkey, the percentages are high not only for the core subjects but also for other school subjects (see Figure E3).
- In many European countries, the majority of teachers currently employed are in the highest age groups (40-49 and older than 50). In Germany, Italy and Sweden, nearly half of all teachers in primary education are older than 50; at secondary level, this age group is the most strongly represented in almost all countries (see Figures E10 and E11). This situation could exacerbate teacher shortages and more qualified teachers are therefore needed.
- Although the official retirement age and/or the minimum retirement age with full pension entitlement has increased since 2001/02 in around a third of all European countries, the majority of teachers retire from the profession as soon as they become eligible. However, in Denmark, Germany, Italy, Cyprus, Poland, Finland, Sweden and Norway; in the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, and Slovenia, more than 5% of teachers continue to work even beyond the official retirement age (see Figure E12).
- At higher education level, there has been a significant fall in the proportion of graduates in the field of education and training. Some countries are particularly affected, Portugal (-6.7%), Iceland (-6%), Hungary (-5.2%) and Belgium (-4.5%). Such decreases are likely to pose further challenges for the future supply of qualified teachers (Figure G3).
- In all European countries, teachers’ absolute salaries increased over the last decade but these increases were not always sufficient to maintain teachers' purchasing power. In some cases, salary increases over the last ten years were higher than 40%. However, the absolute increase in salaries does not always represent a real increase if the cost of living is rising faster (see Figures E13 and E14)
- Even though the overall number of working hours has not changed over recent years, the average number of hours that teachers have to be actively engaged in teaching increased from between 18 and 20 hours a week in 2006/07 to between 19 and 23 hours a week in 2010/11 (see Figure E8).
- Continuing Professional Development has gained importance over recent years. While in 2002/03 it was optional for teachers to participate in CPD activities in around half of European countries, it is now considered a professional duty in 26 countries or regions. In Spain, France, Lithuania, Romania and Slovenia, participation in CPD is a prerequisite for career advancement and salary increases (see Figure E7).
FINANCING EDUCATION : THE MAJOR CHALLENGE IN TIMES OF ECONOMIC CRISIS

- The European Union continued to spend around 5 % of its GDP on education until 2008. Furthermore, although total public expenditure on education as a percentage of GDP remained stable between 2001 and 2008 at the EU-27 level, the expenditure per student increased (see Figures D1 and D2).
- Expenditure per pupil increases also with the level of education. In the EU, the average annual cost per secondary school pupil (ISCED 2 to 4) is higher (PPS EUR 6 129) than that of primary school pupils (ISCED 1, PPS EUR 5 316). The average cost per student in tertiary education in the EU was almost twice as high as for primary pupils (PPS EUR 9 424).
- Private funding of education remains marginal. Given that the majority of students attend public schools (see Figure B4), the proportion of private funding in most countries is determined to a large extent by the policies for the funding of education-oriented pre-primary schooling (see Figure D6) and tertiary education (see Figure D11) i.e. whether fees are payable by pupils and students and, if they are, the level of those fees.
- Non-compulsory pre-primary education is increasingly provided free of charge. This clearly facilitates access to pre-primary education for all children and especially for those who belong to low income families. In addition, countries also often adjust the fees paid for non-compulsory preprimary education according to family income and other criteria. All these measures may explain the increasing participation in education at this level (see Figures D6 and D7).
- On average, countries of the European Union allocate 6.4 % of their total public expenditure to direct public-sector support for pupils and students in all education levels. In addition, family allowances and tax relief are widely used methods of supporting families with school-age children (see Figures D9 and D10).
- Over the last decade an increasing number of countries introduced different types of fees to be paid by tertiary education students. At the same time, the provision of targeted financial support to particular students mitigated the effects of universal schemes for charging administrative and/or tuition fees. Grants and loans for students at tertiary level are a major strand of public expenditure on education and account for more than 16.7% (see Figures D11 and D 12).
HIGHLY EDUCATED PEOPLE HAVE BETTER EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES BUT MANY TERTIARY GRADUATES ARE NOW OVERQUALIFIED FOR THEIR POSTS

- Seventy-nine per cent of young people in Europe aged 20-24 successfully completed upper secondary education (ISCED3) in 2010, confirming the upward trend shown across Europe since 2000 (see Figure G1). The EU average percentage of persons with a tertiary qualification has increased for all age groups since 2000 (see Figure G2).
- In spite of the overall increase in the number of tertiary graduates, a growing proportion appears to be overqualified for the type of employment they find. More than one in five tertiary graduates are over-qualified for their job, and this proportion has increased since 2000 (see Figure G7).
- In addition, imbalances in student participation in the various academic disciplines at tertiary level continue to register and, in some cases, deepen. Since 2000, the most noteworthy variation in the distribution of tertiary graduates across the disciplines is the reduction from around 12% to 9% in the proportion of graduates in science, mathematics and computing. Since 2006, a significant fall in the proportion of graduates in the field of education has also been registered (see Figure G3).
- Tertiary education graduates integrate into the job market two times more quickly than people with at most lower secondary education. At European Union level, the average duration of the transition to the first significant job was only 5 months for people with tertiary qualifications, close to 7.4 months for the upper secondary level and up to 9.8 months for people with lower education levels (see Figure G6).
- Finally yet significantly, a gender gap in the employment rates of higher education graduates to the disadvantage of women still persists, although it has narrowed since 2000. Although women outnumber men in almost all academic fields, they still remain, on average, more likely to be unemployed than men (see Figure G8).