Cover of higher education & research in France, facts and figures

📄 Sources:OECD, Education at a Glance 2014
OECD, Education at a Glance 2013
Insee.

 Coverage:Metropolitan France.

chart 19.01, table 19.02 and chart 19.03 for France are based on the Labour Force Surveys conducted by the French National Institute for Statistics and Economic Studies (Institut national de la statistique et des études économiques – Insee). The chart 19.01 shows the proportion of people from different age groups who hold higher education qualifications. It is based on the responses given to the Insee’s 2013 Labour Force Survey and is broken down into five-year age groups (based on participants’ ages at the time of the survey). Those surveyed may have obtained their higher education qualifications during initial education or later in life (in the case of those who returned to their studies). The diploma of general university studies (Diplôme d’études universitaires générales – DEUG), which has gradually been phased out with the implementation of the LMD reform, was deemed to be a longer-term higher education qualification.

table 19.02 shows those ‘leaving initial education’, where the end of initial education is understood to mean the first point at which an individual interrupts their studies for more than a year. The data for those ‘leaving in year n’ are gathered the following year (’n+1’ survey), meaning that the qualifications were obtained during initial education and not as a result of individuals returning to their studies later in life. They are grouped together in three-year periods (and therefore are taken from three years of surveys) to ensure that the sample groups are of a sufficient size.

Each year, the percentage of an age group who obtain a higher education qualification is calculated using statistics on the qualifications awarded and population data for that year. This LOLF indicator is obtained by calculating, for each age, the ratio of the number of people of that age who hold higher education qualifications to the population of that age, and then calculating the sum of these percentages for each age.

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19 level of education among the general population and among young people

This page has been updated. Read 20. level of education among the general population and among young people in Higher education & research in France, facts and figures 10th edition - June 2017

In France, young people are more likely to hold a higher education qualification than older people and than young people living in other OECD countries. In the early 2010s, 43% of young people leaving initial education held a higher education qualification.

Several indicators can be used to measure the proportion of young people with a higher education qualification, compare this with other countries, analyse recent changes and identify the effects of the latest reforms.

In 2013, 44% of young people aged between 25 and 29 held a higher education qualification (chart 19.01). 28% held a qualification from a long-term course, such as a Bachelor’s degree or higher qualification, while 16% held a vocational qualification from a shorter course, such as a higher technical certificate (Brevet de technicien supérieur – BTS), university technology diploma (Diplôme universitaire de technologie – DUT) or paramedical or social care qualification. This proportion is very similar to that for people aged 30-34 and 35-39, but is significantly higher than that for older people. This reflects the more general increase in the level of education of generations observed in higher education through to the mid-1990s.

This rise became apparent relatively late in comparison with other OECD countries. The proportion of people aged between 25 and 64 in the French population who have higher education qualifications therefore remains lower than the average for OECD countries (2012 data). Secondary and higher education was less developed in France than in the United States or Japan when those now aged 60 were educated. Conversely, the generations that fall within the 25-34 age bracket are now more likely to hold a higher education qualification (43%) than the OECD average (39%) (chart 19.03). For these generations, France is one of the OECD countries with the most people holding vocational higher education qualifications from short courses (5th place), but has relatively fewer graduates from longer-term higher education courses (22nd place).

In an effort to build on the objectives of the Lisbon strategy and promote the creation of a ‘knowledge society’, the European Union (EU) has stated that at least 40% of young adults aged between 30 and 34 living in EU countries should hold a higher education qualification by 2020 (the figure was 37% in 2012). France has already achieved this objective (44%).

A second indicator, which focuses on initial education, can be used to calculate at national level the qualifications obtained by young people who have recently left initial education, by measuring the proportion of young people with higher education qualifications among those leaving education. 43% of young people leaving initial education in 2011-2013 held a higher education qualification: 28% had qualifications from longer-term courses and 15% had vocational higher education qualifications from short courses (table 19.02). This breakdown is relatively similar to that for young people who left the education system in 2008-2010. However, with the development of the new ‘Bachelor’s Degree, Master’s and PhD’ (Licence Master Doctorat - LMD) system, those who have most recently left education were more likely to continue their studies, with 18% of them obtaining a Master’s-level qualification (including those awarded by engineering and business schools), as compared with only 14% three years previously.

Among those leaving initial education, some students with baccalauréats enrolled on higher education courses without subsequently obtaining a qualification (table 19.02). This was the case for approximately 75,000 young people, accounting for 19% of those leaving higher education. This proportion is lower than the OECD average (32% in 2011). In addition to this, 42% of young people leaving the education system held at most an upper secondary level (second cycle) qualification, while 15% had a lower secondary level qualification (Brevet des collèges) or no qualifications.

Finally, a third national indicator aims to factor in more recent changes relating to access to higher education courses. This indicator is obtained for a given year by aggregating, for each age, the proportion of young people of that age who obtain an initial higher education qualification. It is this indicator that is monitored under the French Organic Law on Finance Laws (Loi organique relative aux Lois de finances – LOLF), with a target set at 50%. It was 45.9% in 2012. This indicator has increased slightly and is higher than the previous indicators, reflecting the recent rise in the numbers of students accessing higher education courses.

 Coverage:Metropolitan France.

How to cite this paper :

LE RHUN Béatrice. Level of education among the general population and among young people. In: Higher education & research in France, facts and figures - 49 indicators [online]. KABLA-LANGLOIS Isabelle (dir.). Paris: Ministère de l'Éducation nationale, de l'Enseignement supérieur et de la Recherche, 2015. 8th ed. Chapter 19, 48-49 [Accessed 04/23/2019]. ISBN 978-2-11-139433-9. https://publication.enseignementsup-recherche.gouv.fr/eesr/8EN/EESR8EN_ES_19-level_of_education_among_the_general_population_and_among_young_people-ILL_02.php

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chart 19.01, table 19.02 and chart 19.03 for France are based on the Labour Force Surveys conducted by the French National Institute for Statistics and Economic Studies (Institut national de la statistique et des études économiques – Insee). The chart 19.01 shows the proportion of people from different age groups who hold higher education qualifications. It is based on the responses given to the Insee’s 2013 Labour Force Survey and is broken down into five-year age groups (based on participants’ ages at the time of the survey). Those surveyed may have obtained their higher education qualifications during initial education or later in life (in the case of those who returned to their studies). The diploma of general university studies (Diplôme d’études universitaires générales – DEUG), which has gradually been phased out with the implementation of the LMD reform, was deemed to be a longer-term higher education qualification.

table 19.02 shows those ‘leaving initial education’, where the end of initial education is understood to mean the first point at which an individual interrupts their studies for more than a year. The data for those ‘leaving in year n’ are gathered the following year (’n+1’ survey), meaning that the qualifications were obtained during initial education and not as a result of individuals returning to their studies later in life. They are grouped together in three-year periods (and therefore are taken from three years of surveys) to ensure that the sample groups are of a sufficient size.

Each year, the percentage of an age group who obtain a higher education qualification is calculated using statistics on the qualifications awarded and population data for that year. This LOLF indicator is obtained by calculating, for each age, the ratio of the number of people of that age who hold higher education qualifications to the population of that age, and then calculating the sum of these percentages for each age.

 

Key figures


Share of young people aged 25 to 29 with a higher education diploma
44.4%
 
2013
Metropolitan France
 
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Share of young people aged 25 to 29 with a diploma, from the Diploma of general university studies (DEUG) to the PhD
28%
 
2013
Metropolitan France
 
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Share of young people aged 25 to 29 with an Advanced technician diploma (BTS) or a University technology diploma delivered by IUT (DUT) or a paramedical diploma
16.4%
 
2013
Metropolitan France
 
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19.01 Proportion of people with higher education qualifications by age in 2013 (%)

25-29 years
 
35-39 years
45-49 years
55-59 years
 
 
30-34 years
40-44 years
50-54 years
 
60-64 years
  
Diploma of general university studies (DEUG) to PhD
Higher technical certificate (BTS), University technology diploma (DUT) and paramedical qualifications
 
 

In 2013, 44% of young people aged between 25 and 29 stated that they held a higher education qualification, as compared with 16% of those aged between 60 and 64.

📄 Source:Insee
 Coverage: Metropolitan France.

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19.02 Breakdown of people leaving initial education by their highest qualification (in thousands and as a %)

 
2007-2008-2009 2010-2011-2012
In thousands As % In thousands As %
All PhDs 1 7 1 7 1
Doctor of Medicine 6 1 10 1
Diploma of advanced studies (DEA), Master's degree by research, Postgraduate vocational qualification (Magistère) 11 2 13 2
Engineering diploma 20 3 20 3
Other qualifications awarded by Grandes Écoles 18 3 16 2
Specialised graduate diploma (DESS), Vocational Master's degree 47 7 61 9
All Master's degrees 101 14 121 18
1-year intermediate postgraduate qualification (Maîtrise) 18 3 12 2
Bachelor's degree (Licence) 55 8 50 7
All Bachelor's degrees 74 10 62 9
Diploma of general university studies (DEUG) 2 0 2 0
All long courses 184 26 191 28
Paramedical and social care qualifications (e.g. nursing) 23 3 19 3
University technology diploma (DUT), University and technical studies diploma (DEUST) 11 2 7 1
Higher technical certificate (BTS) and equivalent qualifications 73 10 76 11
All vocational short courses 107 15 103 15
All higher education 291 41 294 43
Baccalauréat or equivalent qualification 173 24 189 28
students who went on to higher education 65 9 75 11
Professional aptitude certificate (CAP), Certificate of vocational education (BEP) or equivalent qualification 118 17 94 14
All students with upper secondary qualifications (second cycle) 291 41 284 42
National lower secondary education diploma (DNB) 58 8 47 7
No qualification 68 10 56 8
All DNB and below 127 18 103 15
All students leaving education 708 100 681 100
 

1 PhDs are research-based and culminate in a thesis.
On average, 43% of those leaving initial education in 2010, 2011 and 2012 graduated with higher education qualifications, as compared with an average of 41% in 2007, 2008 and 2009.

📄 Source:Insee
 Coverage: Metropolitan France.

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19.03 Proportion of the population with higher education qualifications in 2012 (%)

JP
 
AU
SE
FR
ES
HU
 
IT
 
GB
US
NL
FI
OECD
DE
 
  
25-64 years
25-34 years
 
 

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Other editions

Etat de l'enseignement supérieur et de la rechercheHigher education & research in France, facts and figures 10th edition - June 2017
20 - level of education among the general population and among young people - Pascale Poulet-Coulibando & Anna Testas
In France, young people are more likely to have higher education qualifications than older people, and also more likely than young people living in other OECD countries. In the early 2010s, 44% of young people leaving initial education were awarded higher education qualifications [Consult the following page]
Etat de l'enseignement supérieur et de la rechercheHigher education & research in France, facts and figures 9th edition - November 2016
21 - level of education among the general population and among young people - Béatrice Le Rhun & Pascale Poulet-Coulibando
In France, young people are more likely to have higher education qualifications than older people, and also more likely than young people living in other OECD countries. In the early 2010s, 44% of young people leaving initial education were awarded higher education qualifications [Consult the following page]

Translation

 Etat de l'enseignement supérieur et de la rechercheL'état de l'Enseignement supérieur et de la Recherche en France n°8 - juin 2015
19 - le niveau d'études de la population et des jeunes - Béatrice Le Rhun
En France, les jeunes sont plus souvent diplômés de l’enseignement supérieur que les personnes plus âgées et plus souvent aussi que les jeunes vivant dans les autres pays de l’OCDE. Au début des années 2010, 43 % des jeunes sortants de formation initiale sont diplômés de l’enseignement supérieur [Consult the following page in french]


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