Ireland has higher rates of third level education than EU average, data shows

Three in five people aged 25 to 64 have third level qualifications, CSO report says

Rates of third level education in the State were higher than the EU average last year, according to data published by the Central Statistics Office (CSO).

The data showed that 58 per cent of 25-34 year olds had a tertiary level qualification in 2020 in Ireland, compared with an EU average of 41 per cent.

The figures were released on Monday as part of a CSO education report which also included the latest third level figures for the second half of 2021.

The report showed that more than half (53 per cent) of people aged between 25 and 64 in Ireland in 2021 now have a third level education. This reflects increased levels of participation in third level education over time.


The 25-34-year old group continues to have the highest levels of participation in third level education, with the figures for the second half of 2021 showing three out of five young people in this category have tertiary qualifications.

The report showed regional differences with a higher rate of third level qualifications among people from Dublin, compared to those from border and midlands areas. In Dublin 61 per cent of people aged 24-64 had a third level qualification compared to 44 per cent in other areas.

The CSO data showed that employment rates increased with level of education achieved. Women were also more than three times as likely to be employed if they had a third level qualification, compared to women with a primary education or no formal education.

Men aged 25-64 with a third level qualification had an employment rate of 90 per cent compared to 38 per cent of those with a primary education or no formal education.

Just under two thirds of early school leavers aged 18-24 were not economically active in the second quarter of 2021 compared to 35 per cent of other persons in the age category.

Just 4 per cent of people aged between 25-64 had only a primary school education or no formal education. The data was compiled using labour force survey (LFS) data and Eurostat data.