Poland tops the EU list of graduates per population

October 3, 2005

Brussels, 30 Sep 2005

Statistics show that Poland has the highest percentage of university graduates as a share of the under 30 population. Another one for the books in the latest Eurostat Focus on 'Science, Technology and Innovation' is that European manufacturers invest significantly more in R&D and innovation than their service-sector brethren.

Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Community, has released its regular focus report on European activity in the field of science, technology and innovation (STI). It presents the latest statistics on gross expenditure on research and development (GERD), researcher numbers in countries throughout Europe, graduate numbers, innovation expenditure, spending on high-tech and more.

Many results in the August issue of 'Statistics in Focus' carry on a trend revealed in previous issues. Sweden and Finland continue to top the list of EU countries in terms of GERD per capita in 2003 with 1 060 and 830 PPS (a special purchasing parity figure) respectively. Their R&D spending is more than twice the EU-25 average. Outside the EU, Iceland and the USA reached similar values.

Some standout performances this time around were recorded in the new Member States. Poland scored the highest percentage of tertiary level graduates aged 20-29 in 2002 with 7.8%. It stole the top spot from the UK with 7.7% and France with 7.1%. For the same period, in the 'engineering, manufacturing and construction' study area, the countries with the highest share of total graduates were Finland (22.2%), followed by Sweden (21.9%) and, in third place, was Bulgaria with 21.1%.

Innovation policy priority

According to the European TrendChart on Innovation – a well-established benchmarking instrument of the European Commission in the area of innovation policy – innovation policy is a priority for all Member States. "Throughout the EU, hundreds of policy measures and support schemes have been implemented in the past few years or are being drafted," notes the TrendChart website. "Their diversity reflects the diversity of the underlying conditions, cultural preferences and political priorities in the Member States. Nevertheless, there is also a growing perception of innovation policy as a truly European task."

Further findings in the latest Eurostat Focus on STI show that, in a general trend, European businesses invest more heavily in R&D and innovation in the manufacturing sector than the service sector. For example, in 2003, both German and Cypriot manufacturers spent over 4% of turnover on innovation. Bucking the trend, Russian service-oriented businesses invested as much as 6.6% on R&D, while manufacturers spent 1.6%. The European average for service-sector R&D investment ranges from Slovakia's 1.8% to 0.3% in both the Netherlands and Hungary.

In 2003, over half of R&D personnel (full-time equivalent) work in three EU countries – Germany, France and the United Kingdom. The highest R&D human resource increases over the previous year were observed in Malta (76%) – which, granted, started with a low number to begin with – Greece (14%) and Spain (13%).

Germany had the most researchers in 2003 with some 480 000 working across the country. Next came France with nearly 344 000 and the UK with some 7 000. The biggest increases in researcher numbers between 2001 and 2003 were witnessed in Cyprus (17.5%), Greece (16.3%) and Denmark (13.7%). Iceland (2.0%) and Finland (1.9%) have the highest shares of researchers in relation to the active population.

In terms of high-tech exports expressed as a share of total exports during 2003, Malta performed well with 55%, ahead of Ireland (30%) and Luxembourg (29%).

DG Research
http:///europa.eu.int/comm/dgs/research/ i ndex_en.html
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