Lithuania has the highest percentage of university graduates in the European Union, Eurostat statistics showed. Across the European Union as a whole, the percentage of people aged 30 to 34 with university-level education stood at 39.1% in 2016, up from 23.6% in 2002. This pattern was even more significant for women (from 24.5% in 2002 to 43.9% in 2016, than for men (from 22.6% to 34.4%).
Lithuania topped the table, with 58.7%, followed by Luxembourg (54.6 percent), Cyprus (53.4 percent), Ireland (52.9%) as well as Sweden (51.0%). At the opposite end of the scale, the lowest proportions were observed in Romania (25.6%), Italy (26.2%), Croatia (29.5%) and Malta (29.8%).
Meanwhile, the share of early leavers from education and training (aged 18-24) has steadily decreased in the EU, from 17.0% in 2002 to 10.7% in 2016. Young women (9.2% in 2016) are less affected than young men (12.2%).
Compared with 2006, the proportion of early leavers from education and training decreased in 2016 in all Member States, except the Czech Republic, Romania and Slovakia.
In 2016, the lowest proportions of 'early school leavers' were observed in Croatia (2.8%), Lithuania (4.8%), Slovenia (4.9%) and Poland (5.2%), while the highest shares were recorded in Malta (19.6%), Spain (19.0%) and Romania (18.5%).
EU countries are aiming for at least 40% of 30-34-year-olds to have university degrees by 2020, by which time they also hope that less than 10% will leave school early.