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Ireland, the EU and Educational Attainment

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The latest available EU figures showed that, in 2020, 84% of all 20-24 year olds in the EU-27 member states had attained at least a higher secondary level of education. The corresponding figure for Ireland was 95%, ranking the country joint second with Greece among EU member states. Table 4.1 and Figure 4.1.

Show Table: Table 4.1 Percentage of persons aged 20-24 with at least a higher secondary education in EU member states, classified by sex, 2020

Persons with at least a higher secondary education as a % of persons aged 20 - 24EU-27
Luxembourg7584
Denmark7684
Spain7684
Germany7984
Malta8184
Italy8384
Netherlands8384
Romania8384
Bulgaria8584
Portugal8584
Sweden8584
Austria8684
Belgium8684
Hungary8684
Czechia8784
Cyprus8884
Estonia8884
Latvia8884
Finland8984
France9084
Lithuania9084
Poland9084
Slovakia9084
Slovenia9384
Greece9584
Ireland9584
Croatia9784

You can access this data on the Eurostat website

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The latest available EU figures (2020) show that 41% of 30-34 year olds in the EU-27 had a third level qualification. Ireland had the fourth highest third level educational attainment level at 58%, behind Luxembourg (62%), Cyprus (60%) and Lithuania (60%).

Looking at the gender gap in third level attainment for 30-34-year olds in the EU-27, the latest figures show that for every country except Germany females have higher third level attainment. For the EU-27 average the difference is 10 percentage points with 46% of females and 36% of males having a third level qualification. Ireland has the second lowest difference between the sexes at only 6 percentage points, with females at 61% third level attainment and males at 55%. Estonia has the largest gap, here the difference is 24 percentage points, with females having a 57% third level attainment rate compared to males at 33% in Estonia. See Table 4.2 and Figure 4.2.

Show Table: Table 4.2 Percentage of persons aged 30-34 with a third level qualification in EU member states, classified by sex, 2020

Persons with a third level qualification as a % of persons aged 30 -34EU-27
Romania2641
Italy2841
Bulgaria3341
Hungary3341
Croatia3541
Czechia3541
Germany3641
Malta4041
Portugal4041
Slovakia4041
Austria4241
Estonia4441
Greece4441
Spain4541
Poland4741
Slovenia4741
Belgium4841
France4941
Latvia4941
Denmark5041
Finland5041
Sweden5241
Netherlands5441
Ireland5841
Cyprus6041
Lithuania6041
Luxembourg6241

You can access this data on the Eurostat website

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The latest available EU figures showed that in 2020, 10% of all 18-24 year olds in the EU-27 member states were classified as early school leavers. The Irish equivalent rate was 5% in the same period. This ranked the country fourth lowest among EU member states. See Table 4.3 and Figure 4.3.

Show Table: Table 4.3 Early school leavers as a percentage of persons aged 18-24 in EU member states, classified by sex, 2020

Early school leavers as a % of persons aged 18-24EU-27
Croatia210
Greece410
Slovenia410
Ireland510
Poland510
Lithuania610
Latvia710
Netherlands710
Sweden810
Austria810
Belgium810
Czechia810
Estonia810
Finland810
France810
Luxembourg810
Slovakia810
Denmark910
Portugal910
Germany1010
Cyprus1210
Hungary1210
Bulgaria1310
Italy1310
Romania1610
Spain1610
Malta1710

You can access this data on the Eurostat website

Go to next chapter:  Background Notes