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Already in late April, Eurostat, the European Union’s statistical office in Luxemburg, published its latest data for the Union as a whole and for each of its member states on attainment - or otherwise - of its headline targets for education in the Europe 2020 Strategy. Eurostat brought good news.
The higher-education-related one of the five headline targets is for the European Union as a whole to progress to a graduation rate of 40% of the age group between 30 and 34 years. The target was attained already in 2018, when the graduation rate rose to 40.7%. This is no mean feat, given that the percentage was only 23.6% when the counting was started in 2002. However, individual countries, as well as the sexes, differed. In line with many other achievement assessments, the good average result is due to female graduates, who reached 45.8% in 2018, while their male counterparts attained only 35.7%. Among EU member states, Lithuania, Cyprus, Ireland, Luxemburg and Sweden lead the table (in this order). Italy and Romania are at the bottom, with percentages below 30%.
Another one of the headline targets was almost met in 2018. The share of early school leavers stood at 10.6%, only 0.6 percentage points below the target of 10%. This is immense progress from the 17% in 2002, when the data collection was started. Again, women (8.9%) outperform men (12.2%). The bons élèves are Croatia, Slovenia, Lithuania, Greece and Poland. The least performing countries are Malta and Spain.