Level of parental education among university entrants 2017/18 and new doctoral students 2016/17

Higher education is largely influenced by parents' level of education. Differences in higher education studies varied from 22 percent for children with parents who had 9-year compulsory school or less to 85 percent for children who had parents with postgraduate education.

By the age of 25, some 45 percent of the age group born in 1992 had started higher education studies. Differences in higher education studies varied from 22 percent for children with parents who had 9-year compulsory school or less to 85 percent for children who had parents with postgraduate education. Compared to age groups, between 1980 and 1992, the differences between the groups have been relatively constant.

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 who completed such a program and hade parents with a postgraduate education, 93 percent had begun higher education by age 25. The corresponding figure was 68 percent for those with parents with 9-year compulsory school or less.

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 1992, 53 percent of the women began higher education by age 25, as opposed to 37 percent of the men.

Type of higher education is also influenced by parents' education

Of all university entrants during the 2017/18 academic year, 39 percent had highly educated parents, that is, parents with at least three years of post-secondary education. A higher percentage of the university entrants of men had parents who were highly educated. If recruitment to higher education were to correspond to the distribution of the population, 26 percent 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 2017/18 academic year, the highest proportion of highly educated parents, above 60 percent, were among those studying to be doctors, architects and engineers.

Large percentage of highly educated parents among first new doctoral 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 in the 2016/17 academic year, 57 percent had highly educated parents, of whom 11 percentage points had postgraduate education. The proportion of those with highly educated parents was a bit higher for men than for women who began postgraduate education.