Educational attainment – the educational attainment of persons is determined by the highest study programme completed in the formal education system (i.e. in institutions of general, vocational or higher education). An uncompleted study programme does not raise the level of education. The level of education received in a foreign country was determined in the same manner as the level of education acquired in Estonia. The highest level of education attained was computed based on the data of the 2011 Population Census, the Estonian Education Information System and the Population Register (a detailed description is given under Methodology).
Rural settlements – small towns and villages.
Urban settlements – cities, cities without municipal status and towns.
To compute educational attainment for the population, a unique database was created by linking the population data and data on the highest level of education as at the corresponding year. The highest level of education completed has been computed by linking three databases – 2011Population Census, Estonian Education Information System (EHIS) and Population Register. First, the highest level of general education and the highest level of vocational or higher education completed was computed for each person. Then, these two were combined and a hierarchical variable (from the lowest to the highest educational level completed) was formed, according to which every person was assigned his/her highest level of education attained. As a result of this, these vocational education levels which were lower than general education remained hidden (in the case of general upper secondary education, vocational education based on basic education).
Hierarchical order of levels of education:
Early childhood education
Lower secondary education
Lower secondary education - vocational
Upper secondary education
Upper secondary education - vocational
Post-secondary non-tertiary education - vocational
Short-cycle tertiary education - vocational/professional
Bachelor’s or equivalent level
Master’s or equivalent level
Doctoral or equivalent level
If a person had attained two equal educational levels, the earliest one was taken into account. If a person had a higher level of education in the Estonian Educational Information System (EHIS) than in the Census database, the education recorded in EHIS was taken into account and vice versa. The data of the Population Register was used to fill in empty fields at the very end – this was important to indicate the educational level of people without Estonian citizenship.
The most detailed classification of educational attainment presented in the county table PO0231 (with the corresponding ISCED 2011 codes)
1. Early childhood education – a person has not completed a level corresponding to primary education (ISCED code 0).
2. Primary education – a person has not acquired lower secondary education but he/she has finished (at least)
- 6 grades in 1990 or later;
- 3 grades in 1972–1989;
- 4 grades in 1945–1971;
- 6 grades in 1930–1944, including evening primary schools for adults;
- 4 or 6 grades until 1930;
- a one-grade commune school, town primary school, one- or two-grade ministry school, parish school or higher primary school until 1920.
Persons with primary education do not have vocational education, their ISCED code is 1.
3. Lower secondary education – a person has not acquired upper secondary education in a general education school, but he/she has finished
- a basic school or at least 9 grades in a general education school in 1990 or later;
- at least 8 grades in a general education school in 1962–1989;
- an incomplete upper secondary school or 7 grades until 1961;
- a secondary science school or progymnasium until 1940;
- a vocational secondary school in 1920–1940; or
- has acquired lower secondary education in a special school.
The ISCED code for persons with lower secondary education is 24.
4. Lower secondary education - vocational – a person has acquired
- vocational education and lower secondary education attained together;
- vocational education after lower secondary education.
Persons who complete this level do not acquire upper secondary education.
This level of educational attainment corresponds to ISCED code 25.
5. Upper secondary education – a person has graduated from an upper secondary school, a gymnasium, a general education college or an evening school of 10, 11 or 12 grades, or has acquired secondary education in a special school for children with disabilities or in a closed special school. This does not include persons who acquired secondary education together with vocational training, or who acquired secondary specialised education on the basis of lower secondary education. The ISCED code for persons with general upper secondary education is 34.
6. Upper secondary education - vocational – a person has acquired upper secondary education in the framework of the vocational education curriculum. This group excludes persons who attended a general education school (upper secondary school, gymnasium, etc.) and in addition to secondary education received a certificate of vocational education. This level of educational attainment corresponds to ISCED code 35.
7. Post-secondary non-tertiary education - vocational – a person who has acquired vocational secondary education or completed a vocational education curriculum after obtaining upper secondary education. This excludes persons who have acquired secondary specialised education after obtaining upper secondary education. This level of educational attainment corresponds to ISCED code 4.
8. Short-cycle tertiary education - vocational/professional – a person has completed
- a technical school, commercial school, higher agricultural or gardening school, nautical school or other educational institution on the basis of a curriculum of secondary specialised education;
This level of educational attainment corresponds to ISCED code 5.
9. Bachelor's or equivalent level – a person has completed
- a Bachelor’s curriculum based on a 3-year programme. In Estonia, admittance according to this programme started in 2002;
- professional higher education; this is the first level of higher education studies, where a student acquires the required competence for working in a certain profession or continuing studies on the Master’s level;
- an institution of (professional) higher education, a vocational educational institution or other educational institution, having studied on the basis of a curriculum of higher vocational education (graduation in 2000 or later), or Diploma study (graduation in 1992 or later).
This level of educational attainment corresponds to ISCED code 6.
10. Master's or equivalent level –a Master’s degree is equivalent to
- integrated studies of 5 or 6 years (incl. engineering studies), in Estonia, the completion of integrated studies is possible since 2002;
- Bachelor’s curriculum based on a 4-year programme. In Estonia, admittance according to this programme started in 1992 and ended after 2001.
- higher education obtained on the basis of a curriculum valid before 1992; a person has a diploma of higher education: he or she has completed a pre-1992 curriculum of higher education at an institute, academy, university or other educational institution. Such curricula may still be in use on the territory of the former USSR.
- one-year teacher training after Bachelor’s studies.
This level of educational attainment corresponds to ISCED code 7.
11. Doctoral or equivalent level – a person has completed a residency or has been awarded a Doctoral degree. Qualification acquired in the educational system of the USSR, certified by a diploma of Candidate of Sciences (Kandidat nauk) or a diploma of a doctoral degree (Doktor nauk), is considered equivalent to a doctoral degree. These levels of education could not be obtained by graduating from a folk university, a university of Marxism and Leninism, etc.
This level of educational attainment corresponds to ISCED code 8.
The classification of educational attainment presented in the table of administrative units (PO0232) according to ISCED 2011 levels
- Less than primary, primary and lower secondary education: ISCED 0, ISCED 1, ISCED 24
- Lower secondary and upper secondary education - vocational: ISCED 25, ISCED 35
- Upper secondary education: ISCED 34
- Post-secondary non-tertiary education - vocational: ISCED 4
- Tertiary education: ISCED 5-8
International Standard Classification of Education 2011
ISCED (International Standard Classification of Education) is designed to serve as a framework to classify educational activities as defined in programmes and the resulting qualifications into internationally agreed categories. The basic concepts and definitions of ISCED are therefore intended to be internationally valid and comprehensive of the full range of education systems. The current version used is already the third one. The following table presents a comparison between the previous version, ISCED 97, and the newest version, ISCED 2011.
Classification of Estonian administrative units and settlements (EHAK)
The classification of Estonian administrative units and settlements is available on the web site of Statistics Estonia at www.stat.ee/metadata under Classifications.
Methodology and Analysis Department
Tel +372 625 9146
Methodology and Analysis Department
Tel +372 625 9384