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Ireland
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Ireland
Overview of the education system (EAG 2015)
  • As in most European countries, early childhood education in Ireland starts from age 3 and the majority of students (95%) are enrolled in either early childhood or primary education at age 4 (the OECD average is 88%).
  • While employment rates for men fell across OECD countries between 2000 and 2014, the change has been more significant in Ireland, particularly among those with only a lower secondary education: 58% of such men aged 25-64 were employed in 2014, down from 74% in 2000. The change has been even more drastic for young people. Among men aged 25-34 with only a lower secondary education, the employment rate fell from 82% in 2000 to 48% in 2014.
  • For women with a tertiary education, employment rates in 2014 were only slightly below the OECD average (only a 2 percentage-points difference), although it is worth noting that in 2000 their employment rates were above the OECD average. As of 2014, young tertiary-educated Irish women were slightly more likely to be employed than their OECD counterparts (81% vs. 78%).
  • Education in Ireland is mainly publicly funded. Ireland spends USD 10 740 per student on primary, secondary and tertiary education, which is slightly above the OECD average of USD 10 220. Expenditure from public sources is relatively high in Ireland, including in the tertiary sector where 81.8% of educational expenditure comes from public sources. This compares to an EU21* average of 78.1%, or an OECD average of 69.7% in tertiary education.
  • Teachers in Ireland at all levels of education are among the highest paid in the OECD. The average starting salary at primary level in Ireland is USD 34 899 compared with an OECD average of USD 29 807.
  • Teachers in Ireland work a higher net average of teaching hours than their OECD counterparts, with the difference being greatest at the primary level (915 hours vs. the OECD average of 772).
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    The following list displays indicators for which your selected country shows the highest and lowest values among countries. The list can be sorted by level of education or by age group. All rankings are calculated including available data from OECD and partner countries. Find out more about the methodology here.

    Show indicators for which your country ranks among the top or bottom: Sort by:

    Educational outcomes

    The level of tertiary attainment among 30-34 year-olds is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (52.2 %, rank 6/41 ) Download Indicator

    The level of tertiary attainment among 25-34 year-olds is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (50.8 %, rank 5/40 ) Download Indicator

    The proportion of 25-34 year-old women who have attained tertiary education is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (57 %, rank 6/42 ) Download Indicator

    The proportion of 35-44 year-old women who have attained tertiary education is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (53.5 %, rank 6/42 ) Download Indicator

    Participation in education

    In Ireland, the percentage of today's young people expected to graduate from upper secondary education during their lifetimes is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (97.9 %, rank 3/28 ) Download Indicator

    In Ireland, the percentage of today's young men expected to graduate from upper secondary education is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (96.6 %, rank 2/28 ) Download Indicator

    In Ireland, the percentage of today's young women expected to graduate from upper secondary education is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (99.3 %, rank 5/28 ) Download Indicator

    The enrolment rate of 5-14 year-olds in Ireland is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (100 %, rank 2/39 ) Download Indicator

    The enrolment rate among 15-19 year-olds in Ireland is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (96.7 %, rank 1/37 ) Download Indicator

    The percentage of three-year-olds in early childhood education in Ireland is one of the lowest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (45.6 %, rank 31/37 ) Download Indicator

    The percentage of students in public tertiary educational institutions is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (98.4 %, rank 1/36 ) Download Indicator

    The percentage of students younger than 25-year-old entering short-cycle tertiary programmes is relatively high. (82.8 %, rank 4/26 ) Download Indicator

    Ireland has one of the highest percentages of students enrolled in public upper secondary institutions. (98.4 %, rank 1/39 ) Download Indicator

    The percentage of young nationals expected to enter bachelor's or equivalent programmes before turning 25-years-old is among the highest of all OECD countries and partner economies with available data. (52.6 %, rank 5/20 ) Download Indicator

    Intergenerational mobility

    The percentage of 25-34 year-old adults whose educational attainment is higher than that of their parents is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries. (44.6 %, rank 3/20 ) Download Indicator

    The percentage of 25-34 year-old adults without upper secondary education and with the same educational attainment as their parents is comparatively high. (8.8 %, rank 5/20 ) Download Indicator

    The percentage of 25-34 year-old adults with a tertiary education and with the same educational attainment as their parents is comparatively low. (18.7 %, rank 12/20 ) Download Indicator

    The percentage of 25-34 year-old female adults whose educational attainment is higher than that of their parents is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries. (47.3 %, rank 4/20 ) Download Indicator

    The percentage of 25-34 year-old female adults without upper secondary education and with the same educational attainment as their parents is comparatively high. (8.3 %, rank 4/19 ) Download Indicator

    The percentage of 25-34 year-old male adults whose educational attainment is higher than that of their parents is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries. (41.8 %, rank 2/20 ) Download Indicator

    The percentage of 25-34 year-old male adults without upper secondary education and with the same educational attainment as their parents is comparatively high. (9.4 %, rank 4/20 ) Download Indicator

    The percentage of 25-34 year-old adults in tertiary education whose parents had not attained upper secondary education is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries. (40.4 %, rank 4/19 ) Download Indicator

    In Ireland, the proportion of men among 25-34 year-old first generation tertiary-educated non-students is quite high compared to other countries. (44.7 %, rank 5/20 ) Download Indicator

    Fields of education

    The proportion of female tertiary graduates in sciences is one of the lowest among OECD and partner countries. (34 %, rank 29/36 ) Download Indicator

    Problem solving in technology-rich environments

    The proportion of 25-64 year-olds without upper secondary education who demonstrate having good ICT (information and communication technologies) and problem-solving skills is one of the lowest among other countries with available data. (1.3 %, rank 16/17 ) Download Indicator

    The share of women among 25-64 year-old adults who demonstrate having good ICT (information and communication technologies) and problem-solving skills is relatively low compared to other countries. (20.8 %, rank 15/17 ) Download Indicator

    Resources for education

    Annual expenditure per secondary student is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (11298 USD Equivalent, rank 8/38 ) Download Indicator

    The change in total expenditure between 2005 and 2012 at primary, secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary levels is comparatively large. (139 Index, rank 6/32 ) Download Indicator

    The change in the number of students between 2005 and 2012 at primary, secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary levels is comparatively large. (109 Index, rank 2/30 ) Download Indicator

    The share of private expenditure on tertiary education is one of the smallest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (18.2 %, rank 26/35 ) Download Indicator

    In Ireland, public expenditure on education as a percentage of total public expenditure is comparatively high. (14.2 %, rank 7/32 ) Download Indicator

    In Ireland, public expenditure on education as a percentage of GDP is comparatively high. (5.7 %, rank 8/38 ) Download Indicator

    The change in public expenditure on education as a percentage of total public expenditure between 2008 and 2012 is one of the largest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (110 Index, rank 4/27 ) Download Indicator

    In Ireland, the salary cost of primary teachers per student is comparatively high. (3426 USD Equivalent, rank 7/26 ) Download Indicator

    The change in public expenditure between 2005 and 2012 on primary through post-secondary non-tertiary educational institutions is one of the largest compared to other OECD and partner countries with available data. (137 Index, rank 6/31 ) Download Indicator

    The change in private expenditure between 2005 and 2012 on primary through post-secondary non-tertiary educational institutions is one of the largest compared to other OECD and partner countries with available data. (187 Index, rank 4/22 ) Download Indicator

    The change between 2005 and 2012 in public expenditure on tertiary educational institutions is one of the largest compared to other OECD and partner countries with available data. (135 Index, rank 10/29 ) Download Indicator

    The change between 2005 and 2012 in private expenditure on tertiary educational institutions is one of the largest compared to other OECD and partner countries with available data. (137 Index, rank 7/23 ) Download Indicator

    Teachers

    The number of students per teacher in tertiary institutions is one of the largest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (20 Students, rank 7/28 ) Download Indicator

    After 15 years of experience, a lower secondary teacher with minimum qualification can expect to have one of the highest salaries among OECD and partner countries with available data. (54155 USD Equivalent, rank 6/32 ) Download Indicator

    After 15 years of experience, an upper secondary teacher with minimum qualification can expect to have one of the highest salaries among OECD and partner countries with available data. (54155 USD Equivalent, rank 7/31 ) Download Indicator

    After 15 years of experience, a primary teacher with minimum qualification can expect to have one of the highest salaries among OECD and partner countries with available data. (54155 USD Equivalent, rank 5/32 ) Download Indicator

    The number of hours per year primary teachers spend teaching in public institutions is comparatively large in Ireland. (915 Hours, rank 6/32 ) Download Indicator

    The number of hours per year upper secondary teachers spend teaching general programmes in public institutions is comparatively large in Ireland. (735 Hours, rank 10/32 ) Download Indicator

    The percentage of primary teachers younger than 40 is especially high. (60.5 %, rank 3/36 ) Download Indicator

    The percentage of upper secondary teachers younger than 40 is especially high. (43.6 %, rank 8/34 ) Download Indicator

    The percentage of secondary teachers younger than 40 is especially high. (43.6 %, rank 10/36 ) Download Indicator

    Salaries of primary school teachers with minimum training at the top of scale are especially high. (61263 USD Equivalent, rank 6/32 ) Download Indicator

    The share of teachers aged between 30 and 39 in secondary schools is especially high. (35.8 %, rank 3/35 ) Download Indicator

    The share of women among teaching staff in upper secondary education is one of the largest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (71 %, rank 5/36 ) Download Indicator

    Classroom environment

    The number of grades that are part of compulsory primary education is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (6 Years, rank 4/36 ) Download Indicator

    In Ireland, the ratio of students to teaching staff in bachelor's and tertiary advanced research programmes is one of the highest compared to other OECD and partner countries with available data. (19.55 Ratio, rank 6/27 ) Download Indicator

    Economic and social outcomes

    The employment rate among 25-64 year-olds with tertiary education is comparatively low. (81.1 %, rank 29/37 ) Download Indicator

    The employment rate among 25-64 year-olds without upper secondary education is comparatively low. (46.6 %, rank 33/37 ) Download Indicator

    The employment rate among 25-64 year-olds with upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary education is comparatively low. (67.9 %, rank 32/37 ) Download Indicator

    The employment rate among 25-64 year-old men with tertiary education is comparatively low. (85.6 %, rank 29/37 ) Download Indicator

    The unemployment rate among 25-34 year-olds with below upper secondary education is comparatively high. (34.3 %, rank 4/37 ) Download Indicator

    The unemployment rate among 25-34 year-olds with upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary education is comparatively high. (16.5 %, rank 3/37 ) Download Indicator

    The unemployment rate among 55-64 year-olds with tertiary education is comparatively high. (6.1 %, rank 3/33 ) Download Indicator

    The unemployment rate among 25-64 year-olds without upper secondary education is comparatively high. (18.7 %, rank 6/37 ) Download Indicator

    The unemployment rate among 25-64 year-olds with upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary education is comparatively high. (11.9 %, rank 4/37 ) Download Indicator

    The unemployment rate among 25-64 year-old men without upper secondary education is comparatively high. (20.3 %, rank 6/37 ) Download Indicator

    The unemployment rate among 25-64 year-old men with upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary education is comparatively high. (13.1 %, rank 3/37 ) Download Indicator

    The unemployment rate among 25-64 year-old men with tertiary education is comparatively high. (6.5 %, rank 4/37 ) Download Indicator

    Compared with other OECD and partner countries, the difference in earnings between 25-64 year-old men with tertiary education and those with upper secondary education is quite high. (191 Index, rank 6/34 ) Download Indicator

    Compared with other OECD and partner countries, the difference in earnings between 25-64 year-old women with tertiary education and those with upper secondary education is quite high. (184 Index, rank 6/34 ) Download Indicator

    Compared with other OECD and partner countries, the proportional difference in earnings between 25-64 year-old adults with tertiary education and those with upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary education is quite high. (184 Index, rank 7/34 ) Download Indicator

    The unemployment rate among 25-64 year-olds with a short-cycle tertiary education degree is one the highest of all OECD countries and partner economies for which data are available. (7.1 %, rank 3/25 ) Download Indicator

    The unemployment rate among 25-64 year-olds with a vocational upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary education is high compared to other OECD and partner countries. (16.4 %, rank 3/29 ) Download Indicator

    The unemployment rate among 25-64 year-olds with a general upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary education is high compared to other OECD and partner countries. (15.8 %, rank 3/27 ) Download Indicator

    Compared with other OECD and partner countries, the proportional difference in earnings between 25-64 year-old adults with a short-cycle tertiary education degree and those with upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary education is high. (144 Index, rank 4/20 ) Download Indicator

    Compared with other OECD and partner countries, the proportional difference in earnings between 25-64 year-old adults with a bachelor's or equivalent degree and those with upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary education is high. (204 Index, rank 3/21 ) Download Indicator

    The gap in average earnings between 25-64 year-old women with a bachelor's or equivalent degree and those with upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary education is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (150 Index, rank 4/20 ) Download Indicator

    The gap in average earnings between 25-64 year-old women with a master's or equivalent degree and those with upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary education is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (202 Index, rank 4/21 ) Download Indicator

    In Ireland, the proportional difference in earnings between 25-64 year-old men with a short-cycle tertiary education degree and those with upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary education is high. (148 Index, rank 4/20 ) Download Indicator

    In Ireland, the proportional difference in earnings between 25-64 year-old men with a bachelor's or equivalent degree and those with upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary education is high. (209 Index, rank 4/21 ) Download Indicator

    The percentage of 25-64 year-olds with upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary education who report being in good health is one of the highest among other countries with available data. (88.7 %, rank 1/20 ) Download Indicator

    The percentage of 15-29 year-old men who are not in education, are unemployed and are not in the labour force in Ireland is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (17.2 %, rank 5/37 ) Download Indicator

    The percentage of 15-29 year-olds with an upper secondary or post-secondary degree who are neither employed nor in education or training is comparatively high in Ireland. (21.5 %, rank 6/35 ) Download Indicator

    The percentage of 25-29 year-old men who are neither employed nor in education or training in Ireland is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (22.5 %, rank 4/36 ) Download Indicator

    The percentage of 15-19 year-old women who are neither employed nor in education or training in Ireland is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (9.5 %, rank 9/36 ) Download Indicator


    The data table will display up to six selected countries.
    General findings
    • On average, over 80% of tertiary-educated people are employed compared with over 70% of people with an upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary education and less than 60% of people with below upper secondary education.
    • Across OECD countries, compared with adults with upper secondary education with income from employment, those with a tertiary degree earn about 60% more.
    • Adults with higher qualifications were more likely to report desirable social outcomes, including good or excellent health, participation in volunteer activities, interpersonal trust, and political efficacy.
    • First generation tertiary-educated adults and tertiary-educated adults whose parents also hold a tertiary degree share similar employment rates and pursue similar fields of study.
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    • OECD countries have made significant progress in narrowing gender gaps in educational attainment, pay and labour market participation. Nevertheless, in tertiary education, young women are still under-represented in the fields of mathematics, physical science and computing.
    • One in five 20-24 year-olds is neither employed nor in education or training. In addition, young people with lower attainment levels are more likely to be unemployed than their counterparts with higher attainment level.
    • Participation in employer-sponsored education is strongly related to proficiency levels in key skills such as literacy and numeracy as well as to educational attainment. About 57% of employed adults with good skills in ICT and problem solving participate in employer-sponsored formal and/or non-formal education, while only 9% of adults who cannot use a computer and lack of problem solving skills do.
    • When parents' education is taken into account, adults with tertiary education are 23 percentage points more likely than those with upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary education as their highest level of education to be among the top 25% in monthly earnings.
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    • In a majority of OECD countries, education now begins for most children well before they are 5 years old. Some 74% of 3-year-olds are enrolled in early childhood education across OECD countries.
    • The average primary school class in OECD countries has 21 students, and this average increases to 24 in lower secondary education. Larger classes are correlated with less time spent on actual teaching and learning and with more time spent on keeping order in the classroom. Specifically, one additional student added to an average-size class is associated with a 0.5 percentage-point decrease in time spent on teaching and learning activities.
    • Graduating from upper secondary education has become increasingly important in all countries. Analysing countries for which comparable trends data are available for 2005 and 2013, the first-time graduation rate at the upper secondary level increased from 79% to 84%.
    • Across OECD countries, 77% of individuals with a vocational upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary qualification are employed - a rate that is 7 percentage points higher than that among individuals with a general upper secondary education as their highest qualification.
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    • Even though tertiary attainment is increasing, entry rate to more advanced tertiary degrees such as master's and doctoral levels tend to be lower than bachelor. More than one in two students is expected to enter a bachelor degree programme, compared to about one in five for master degree programmes
    • In most OECD and partner countries, labour market opportunities are better for adults with a master's degree or equivalent than for adults with a bachelor's degree.
    • Doctoral students tend to be much more internationally mobile than other students in tertiary education, and they are also more likely to study sciences and engineering. Women are still under-represented in doctoral programmes. In most OECD countries in 2013, around 45% of advanced.
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    • On average, OECD countries spend USD 10 220 per student per year from primary through tertiary education, with large variations between levels of education : Educational institutions spend an average of 1.2 times more per secondary student and 1.8 times more per tertiary student than per primary student.
    • Public funding accounts for 83% of funds for educational institutions from primary to tertiary education; varying from 91% for primary, secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary educational institutions to 70% for tertiary institutions.
    • OECD countries spend an average of 5.3% of GDP on educational institutions from primary to tertiary education.
    • The share of private funding in tertiary education is increasing over the last 10 years, and the differentiation of tuition fees is increasing: About two thirds of private funding of tertiary institutions comes from households, through tuition fees.
    • More than 60% of current expenditure relates to compensation of teaching staff at primary and secondary levels. In most countries, salaries increased less since 2005 than between 2000 and 2005, and, only half of OECD countries show an increase in real terms between 2008 and 2013.
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    • Pre-primary and primary teachers earn 79% of the salary of a similarly-educated, 25-64 year-old full-time, full-year worker, lower secondary teachers are paid 81%, and upper secondary teachers are paid 83% of that benchmark salary.
    • Public school teachers teach an average of 1 005 hours per year at the pre-primary level, 772 hours at the primary level, 694 hours at the lower secondary level, and 643 hours at the upper secondary level of education. In countries with available data, the amount of teaching time in primary, lower secondary and upper secondary education remained largely unchanged between 2000 and 2013.
    • The teaching workforce across OECD countries is ageing with the proportion of secondary teachers aged 50 or older climbed by 3 percentages points between 2005 and 2013, on average among countries with comparable data.
    • Teacher appraisal is legislated/required by policy or regulation in three-quarters of OECD and partner countries with available data.
    • Despite the increased use of ICT in a student's life, the use of ICTs in learning and pedagogy remains scarce. This may be because, among other things, teachers feel they are not sufficiently skilled in using ICT.
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    Note: These values should be interpreted with care since they are influenced by countries' specific contexts and trade-offs. In education, there is often no simple most- or least-efficient model. For instance, the share of private expenditure in education must be read against other measures designed to mitigate inequities, such as loans and grants; longer learning time is an opportunity to convey more and better content to students, but may hinder investments in other important areas. If you want further information on the nature of different variables, please take the time to read the analysis and contextual information, available at the website for each publication.
    All rankings for individual variables are compiled on the basis of OECD and G20 countries for which data are available. The OECD average includes only OECD countries which are listed here: http://www.oecd.org/about/membersandpartners/

    *TALIS averages are based on all countries participating in the TALIS survey, including partner countries and economies. This explains the difference between the OECD average and the TALIS average. Data from the TALIS survey and Education at a Glance (EAG) may differ. See Annex E of the TALIS technical report and Annex 3 of EAG for more details about the data collections.

    For additional notes, please refer to annexes in the list of links below the introductory country profile text.