Proportion of graduates in science and technology increasing slightly each year, says Eurydice report

September 23, 2005

Brussels, 22 Sep 2005

Eurydice, the information network on education in Europe, has recently released its 'Key Data on Education in Europe 2005' report. The paper covers 30 European countries, and describes a limited but constant increase in the number of graduates following careers in science and technology between 1998 and 2002, the period covered by the report.

The report is the outcome of cooperation between the European Commission Directorate-General for Education and Culture, Eurostat (the Statistical Office of the European Communities) and Eurydice.

In almost all EU countries, over 25 per cent of graduates in 2002 completed courses in the fields of social sciences, business and law, which account for the greatest share of tertiary education qualifications in Europe. Science, mathematics and computing bring up the rear, and almost everywhere represent under 15 per cent of the qualifications awarded. However, notes the report, between 1988 and 2002, the increase in graduates in the science and technology sectors remained irreversible. Its rate of growth per 1,000 inhabitants aged between 20 and 29 ranges between ten per cent and, in certain cases, over 50 per cent.

With regards to gender differences, it was already apparent back in 1998 that a greater number of women than men were qualifying from tertiary education almost everywhere. This trend continued up to 2002, with an increase of over ten per cent in the number of women graduates compared to their male counterparts in the majority of countries. In 2002, women graduates outnumbered male graduates in all countries for which data were available.

However, this superiority in number of women is not reflected in technical and scientific careers, and given that almost everywhere more men than women study 'engineering, manufacturing and construction and 'science, mathematics and computing', they also often account for more graduates in these fields than do women.

The field in which men represent the highest proportion of graduates is 'engineering, manufacturing and construction', occupying on average between 62 and 87 per cent of places. The clear numerical strength of men is also evident among graduates in science, mathematics and computing, even though their representation never exceeds 75 per cent. But a new trend is arising and a little over half of all graduates in this particular field of study are women in Italy, Cyprus, Latvia, Poland, Portugal, Bulgaria and Romania.

Earlier, at the stage of compulsory secondary education, teaching of the exact sciences and mathematics accounts for a very significant share of the curriculum. In cases in which the share of teaching time per subject is fixed, the subjects correspond to over 20 per cent of the timetable.

To download the 'Key Data on Education in Europe 2005' report (available in English and French), please consult the following web address:
http:///www.e urydice.org/Doc_intermediair es/indicators/en/frameset_key_data.html

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