In 2021, 41% of 25-34 year-olds had completed their higher education, receiving an academic or vocational degree, according to statistics from Eurostat, the European Union’s statistics agency.
Across higher education, women now vastly outnumber men. 47% of young women now hold some sort of degree compared to just 36% of young men. According to data from the European Commission, in 2018, women accounted for 53.7% of all tertiary students in the EU-27 countries.
Women are generally most highly represented in master’s degrees, where they account for 56.9% of students. The majority of people in doctoral studies, however, are men (52%).
While the share of men in higher education has been on the rise for the last ten years, it has been vastly outpaced by the increasing number of female students, who are now the majority.
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Compared to previous generations, university attainment is growing across the European Union. 22% of Europeans aged 55-74 have completed a degree compared to 37% of those aged 25-54.
The European Union has set a target of increasing the share of the young people with degrees or vocational certificates to 45% by 2030. Many member states have already met this target.
In Luxembourg and Ireland, over 60% of young adults hold a tertiary degree. Belgium is above the European average, with just over 50% of young people now holding a degree.