Level of parental education among university entrants 2015/16 and new
doctoral students 2014/15

Higher education is largely influenced by parents' level of education. By the age of 25, some 44 per cent of the age group born in 1990 had started higher education studies.

Differences in higher education studies varied from 20 per cent for children with parents who had 9 year compulsory school or less to 83 per cent for children who had parents with postgraduate education.

Compared to age groups born in the 1970s the differences between the groups have been relatively constant, even if the transition to higher education has increased.

The choice of upper secondary education has great significance for further higher education studies

Those who begin higher education studies are mainly those who took study preparation programmes in upper secondary school. Of those born in 1990 who took these courses in upper secondary school, 79 per cent had begun higher education by age 25. Of those with parents who had postgraduate education, the figure was 94 per cent while for those with parents with 9 year compulsory school or less the figure was 69 per cent.

Similar or greater differences also exist for children who had other education at upper secondary school and for those without upper secondary education and whose parents had different levels of education.

More women than men pursue higher education. Of those born 1990, 52 per cent of the women began higher education by age 25, as opposed to 37 per cent of the men.

Type of higher education is also influenced by parents' education

Of all university entrants under age 35 during the 2015/16 academic year, 39 per cent had highly educated parents, that is, parents with at least three years of post-secondary education. A higher percentage of the university entrants of the men had parents who were highly educated. If recruitment to higher education were to correspond to the distribution of the population aged 19 to 34, 26 per cent would have highly educated parents. The difference between the distribution in higher education and that in the population can be seen as a rough measure of uneven recruitment to higher education.

There are considerable differences in uneven recruitment among the different types of education at institutes of higher education. The percentage of first year students with highly educated parents is highest for types of education that require high grades to be admitted.

Among first year students in the larger programmes in the 2015/16 academic year, the highest proportion of highly educated parents, around 60 per cent, were among those studying to be doctors, architects and psychologists.

Large percentage of highly educated parents among first new docteral students

The uneven recruitment in the distribution by parents' level of education that is available for first year students in higher education is strengthened by the transition to postgraduate education.

Among new doctoral students under age 35 in the 2014/15 academic year, 59 per cent had highly educated parents, of whom 12 percentage points had postgraduate education. The proportion of those with highly educated parents was the same for men and women who began postgraduate education.