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The coding of the highest attained education is very flexible in order to give the users the widest possible choice of specifying their own categories of interest. Two different types of coding are used in parallel: edu_eurrep is the standardised coding into four categories that make datasets comparable across the database; edu_from, edu_to is coding according to the International Standard Classification of Education 1997 (ISCED). There are 7 broad levels of education, starting from 0 and ranging up to 6, further distinguishable into (C)/B/A sublevels:

Table 1 The 1997 ISCED levels and their short description

ISCED level Description
0 Early childhood education; no education
1 Primary education
2C-2A Lower-secondary education (Second stage of basic education)
3C Upper-secondary education: programmes designed to lead directly to labour market, not to ISCED 5A or 5B (e.g. Apprenticeship, Secondary technical school)
3B Upper-secondary education: programmes designed to provide direct access to ISCED 5B (e.g. Vocational training)
3A Upper-secondary education: programmes designed to provide direct access to ISCED 5A (e.g. Higher general secondary/Higher technical secondary school)
4B Post-secondary non-tertiary education not giving access to level 5 (primarily designed for direct labour market entry, e.g. Schools for medical services, Schools for nursing)
4A Post-secondary non-tertiary education programmes that prepare for entry to ISCED 5 (e.g. follow-up courses, language schools)
5B First stage of tertiary education (not leading directly to an advanced research qualification; e.g. Higher technical school, polytechnic)
5A Bachelor’s, Master’s or equivalent level
6 Doctoral or equivalent level

For detailed information on ISCED 1997 visit http://uis.unesco.org/en/topic/international-standard-classification-education-isced

In edu_eurrep categorisation the following four standardised categories are specified:

Level 1: lowest compulsory education; encompasses ISCED levels 0, 1 and 2; also labelled basic or primary education;

Level 2: usually ISCED3C, but in some countries a different categorisation is used to reflect underlying differences in educational systems and achieve maximum comparability. For example for Austria ISCED3B (apprenticeship and vocational training) is included into the Level 2 category, while for the Czech Republic ISCED3B is included into the Level 3 category.

Level 3: upper-secondary and post-secondary education; includes ISCED3A, ISCED3B and ISCED4;

Level 4: ISCED5 and ISCED6 levels; tertiary or university education.

In some cases (e.g. Switzerland), the Medium-low and Medium-high cannot be distinguished, and only three basic categories are specified (Level 1, 2, 3). To achieve maximum comparability across countries, surveys and categories of education, all output variables can be computed either by four (when available) or by three categories of education.

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