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Non-EU citizens leaving school too early

Staff writer |
For a wide range of education indicators, significant disparities can be observed in the European Union (EU) between non-EU citizens and citizens of the reporting country, referred to as “nationals”.

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This does not only concern educational attainment. In particular, the proportion of young non-EU citizens affected by early leaving from education and training is more than twice that of nationals.

Young non-EU citizens have also a greater risk of being both out of the education system and not in employment.

A quarter of non-EU citizens aged 18-24 left education prematurely Non-EU citizens are more than twice as likely to be early school leavers as nationals.

One in every four non-EU citizens (25.5%) aged 18-24 in the EU has left education or training prematurely, compared with 10.2% of nationals and 19.2% of citizens of another EU Member State.

The Europe 2020 target aims at reducing the rate of early school leaving in the EU to below 10% by 2020.

A clear gender pattern can be observed: in each of these three groups of citizenship, men were more likely to leave education without having completed upper secondary level. However, the gap between men and women is narrower for non-EU citizens.

More than 20% of young non-EU citizens neither in education nor in employment. The “NEET” rate corresponds to the percentage of the population aged 15-24 who are not employed and not involved in further education or training. In the EU in 2014, the NEET rate was much higher for non-EU citizens (20.6%) than for both nationals (12.0%) and citizens of another EU Member State (15.5%).

It should be noted that, while NEET rates in the EU are almost equal for men and women for nationals (11.9% for men compared with 12% for women in 2014), a significant gap can be observed for foreign citizens, where the rate for women is significantly higher than for men both for non-EU citizens (23.8% vs. 17.6%) and for citizens of another EU Member State (17.9% vs. 12.7%).

Almost a third of non-EU citizens aged 30-34 with tertiary education. One of the Europe 2020 strategy targets is that at least 40% of 30-34-year-olds in the EU should complete tertiary education by 2020. In 2014, the share of non-EU citizens aged 30 to 34 in the EU who have completed tertiary education stood at 30.2%.

In contrast, nationals and citizens of another EU Member State were both closer to the Europe 2020 target, with shares of tertiary education attainment of 38.5% and 39.3% respectively. For these three groups, the proportion of tertiary educational attainment was notably higher for women than men, though to a lesser extent for non-EU citizens.

Low education level prevails among the non-EU population living in the EU. In 2014 in the EU, more than 40% (43.9%) of non-EU citizens aged 18 to 64 had a low education level, while this proportion was around 25% for both citizens of the reporting country (nationals) and for citizens of another EU Member State (23.4% and 25.9% respectively).

Discrepancies were however lower for the share of the population with a high education level, which stood at 23% for non-EU citizens, compared with 27.3% for nationals and 31% for citizens of another EU Member State.


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