The EU risks missing its target of 40 per cent of 30-34 year-old Europeans holding a university degree in 2020, according to a joint report from the European Commission and Council of Ministers.
In 2010, 33.6 per cent of citizens of the EU-27 aged 30 to 34 held a university degree, says the report “Education and Training in a Smart, Sustainable and Inclusive Europe”. However, it adds that the EU will not reach the 40-per-cent bar unless national governments maintain education spending and reform efforts for the modernisation of higher education.
The best performers are Ireland (close to 50 per cent), Denmark (47 per cent) and Luxembourg (46 per cent), while seven member states score below 25 per cent: Romania, Malta, Italy, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria and Portugal.
To meet the EU target, the report says universities should also improve guidance and counselling to reduce university dropouts, and should seek to attract more students from outside the EU in the hope they will settle here. In addition, governments should encourage workers to re-enter higher education, ease the transition between vocational training to universities, and improve the recognition of non-formal learning.
“Alongside efforts to optimise funding and governance, the participation of under-represented groups needs to increase in all member states,” the report says. This includes people from poorer backgrounds, under-represented ethnic groups and people with disability.
The report, released on 8 February, reviews progress in the rollout of the EU’s Strategic Framework for European Cooperation in Education and Training (ET2020) adopted in 2009. It includes a review of education budgets and policy developments in each EU country.