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15 Most Educated Countries in Europe in 2018

Today we will go through the most educated countries in Europe in 2018.

There are different educational systems in different countries, of course, starting from primary to middle and higher education, comprising of more or less same levels of knowledge on all of these. Since primary educational levels are compulsory in Europe, we will focus more on the highest educational levels.

There are many universities in Europe which have century old traditions. First European universities originated as part of monasteries and monastic schools, like Grammars for example. In these Grammar schools, main fields of interest were studies of Latin language, writing and rhetoric skills and sometimes also included arithmetic and other more scientific oriented knowledge.

Later on, universities in Europe were funded and supported by kings and governing instances. First European independent universities include universities of Bologna (as the first university ever founded), Oxford and Paris which date back to 11th and 12th century. During the Middle Ages number of universities in Europe has increased rapidly.

 Most Educated Countries in Europe in 2018

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The rise of modern universities was seen in the 19th century. The “modernization” was seen in the secularization of universities and orienting more and more towards scientific approaches. Also, the other important thing about these universities was making them more accessible to ordinary people and even those of low or no income at all. That was also the time when national public universities were first opened.

With a long and important history of high education, Europe is still a great place for studying. There are many universities in Europe that teach in English. On that matter, you might be interested to find out which the best universities in Europe for international students are. There are many universities, apart from those in UK and Ireland where international students can find cheap universities that teach in English and some of the best counties to study in Europe for international students where that is possible are Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Finland. From the huge list of universities in Europe some that offer cheap education in English, and also highly ranked, are: University of Oslo, Uppsala University, University of Tübingen, Leiden University, just to name some.

On the matter of the best European country to study and work, it will mostly depend on the time spent at the University, and the subject you are studying, studying for some professions just wouldn’t leave you free time for work. But some of the countries where working and studying is possible and affordable are France, Germany, Spain, and the UK. That is because universities in many countries are mostly public. For example, a great majority of universities in countries like Norway, Netherlands, Austria, Sweden, Italy or Ireland. In some others, although majority being public there is a certain number of private universities in Spain, France, and Poland. Anyway, getting some of the funding from organizations like Erasmus+, for example, can open a wide variety of opportunities with no necessity of working while studying.

Some of the best and most famous European universities concerning technology and science would certainly include ETH Zurich – Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, being at the top of university rankings together with University of Cambridge and Imperial College London. These are also some of the recommendations for the top universities in Europe for engineering. Furthermore, check out the list of Europe universities and take your pick.

Concerning education in Europe, you will surely find the countries that are on our list at the Top 50 Most Educated Countries with the Best Education Systems in the World as well.

We have made our main ranking by percentage of the population with tertiary level education for the population of 25-64 of age categories. The data came from the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development), and the figures are the situation from 2016. We have also then added a parameter showing the quality of education just as a comparison to the quantity data we have ranked our list on. The education quality data comes from World Economic Forum’s report on Global Competitiveness Rankings for 2017-2018, with the data in subcategory Education Quality. The highest score for education quality is 7.

So now when we have gone through the short history of European universities, and also seen that the level of European education is among the top in the world, let’s see which are those most educated countries in Europe in 2018:

15. Slovenia

Percentage of population with high education: 43.5

Education quality: 4.8/7

This small country not only that has a decent amount of highly educated citizens, but the quality of education is also on a high level, with Slovenia being in 29th place on Global Competitiveness Index for the quality of education.

 Most Educated Countries in Europe in 2018

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14. Poland

Percentage of population with high education: 43.5

Education quality: 4.2/7

Around 1.66 million people have tertiary education, according to data from 2015 by Eurostat. Nowadays education in Poland is on a very good level, after education reforms that took place more than a decade ago, putting it among the top European educational systems. But a new educational reform seems to be on the way concerning elementary and secondary education – abolishing middle schools and integrating them into elementary schools which have come upon different opinions.

 Most Educated Countries in Europe in 2018

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13. France

Percentage of population with high education: 44

Education quality: 5/7

France ranks 13th on our list of most educated countries in Europe in 2018. It holds the place of one of the countries with the best educational system. That is also supported by the score of 5 out of 7 for the education quality.

 Most Educated Countries in Europe in 2018

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12. Spain

Percentage of population with high education: 44.1

Education quality: 4.5/7

Spain has involved much in the last 25 years on education reforms which have proved to do well, putting Spain among the most educated countries in Europe today.

 Most Educated Countries in Europe in 2018

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11. Belgium

Percentage of population with high education: 44.3

Education quality: 5.4/7

Even though not being at the very top of most educated countries in Europe in 2018 according to the percentage of education with tertiary level education, Belgium is among the top concerning the quality of education and not only on academic levels.

 Most Educated Countries in Europe in 2018

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And now, let’s see the top ten most educated countries in Europe in 2018, shall we?

10. The Netherlands

Percentage of population with high education: 45.2

Education quality: 5.8/7

High education in the Netherlands is among the top in the world’s rankings, having the oldest university in the country, the University of Leiden dating back to the 16th century. Moreover, some of the best universities in Europe for medicine are in this country.

 Most Educated Countries in Europe in 2018

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9. Denmark

Percentage of population with high education: 45.9

Education quality: 5.4/7

Studying in Denmark is not free, but it is high-quality, scoring 5.4 out of 7 on education quality rankings. And comparing to university education in the US, it pays off much more, both financially and qualitatively.

 Most Educated Countries in Europe in 2018

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8. Iceland

Percentage of population with high education: 48.5

Education quality: 5.4/7

Iceland is one of the most literate countries in the world, and also among the most educated ones. Comparing to the population size it has eight universities (largest of them being the University of Iceland), which is quite a big number, but education in Iceland is attracting many foreign students as well.

 Most Educated Countries in Europe in 2018

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7. Norway

Percentage of population with high education: 48.7

Education quality: 5.4/7

As in many Scandinavian countries, university education in Norway is free. Whether or not that is the reason for Norway being among the most educated countries in Europe, but here the quality of education is also on the high level, scoring 5.4 out of 7.

 Most Educated Countries in Europe in 2018

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6. Switzerland

Percentage of population with high education: 48.8

Education quality: 6.1/7

As one of the most educated countries in Europe in 2018, Switzerland also has the top score in education quality with the score 6.1 out of 7. And the trend does not seem to fall down. Although not among the cheapest ones, Switzerland’s universities are among the best and offer all the luxury not only of studying but of living ass well.

 Most Educated Countries in Europe in 2018

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5. Sweden

Percentage of population with high education: 49.3

Education quality: 5.2/7

A good thing about countries like Sweden is that higher education is completely free. Also, the quality of education is ranked very high. Now some recent trends: there were fewer applicants for the higher education in Sweden in 2017 compared to 2016, but more applicants were accepted to the universities in 2017.

 Most Educated Countries in Europe in 2018

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4. Luxembourg

Percentage of population with high education: 51.2

Education quality: 4.7/7

There is one public university in Luxembourg founded in 2003 and several other institutions where people can get a higher education. Having in mind small population of Luxembourg this number is more than enough to satisfy country’s need for higher education. Being one of the most educated countries in Europe in 2018, Luxembourg also has a good score of education level, being 5.1 out of 7.

 Most Educated Countries in Europe in 2018

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3. Finland

Percentage of population with high education: 51.4

Education quality: 5.9/7

Finland has the reputation of a country with the best education in the world. But according to the percentage of people with a tertiary level of education it holds “only” the third position at this moment. One of the great things in the superb Finnish education system is that education is free at all levels.

2.  UK

Percentage of population with high education: 51.6

Education quality: 5.2/7

The UK is definitely one of the best countries to study in Europe for international students. It has some of the best universities and education to offer, so it is not a surprise that this country is among the top most educated countries in Europe. In 2015, there were around 2.3 million people with tertiary education in the UK, according to Eurostat. Also, on this matter London is said to be the most educated city in Europe, beating the records both in the UK and the rest of EU. There are around 60% of graduates in London, comparing to Oslo (54%), Helsinki (51%) and Zurich (50%) for example.

 Most Educated Countries in Europe in 2018

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1. Lithuania

Percentage of population with high education: 54.9

Education quality: 4.5/7

Although Lithuania is quantitatively the most educated country in Europe in 2018, the quality of education seems to be on 41st place in world’s rankings on quality of education for 2017-2018, and actually showing a declining trend on this matter.

 Most Educated Countries in Europe in 2018

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This wraps it up for our list of most educated countries in Europe in 2018.