Press Release 19/09/2019


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25.8% of the population of the Basque Country had been educated at university level in the Basque Country in 2018

Nine out of ten people holding a university degree or a vocational training qualification were in work

One out of four people aged 10 or over had been educated at intermediate-higher or higher university level, studies completed or not, in 2018, according to Eustat data. This figure reached 509,907, which in comparison with 2016 was an increase of 19,620 people. Likewise, 11,332 more people held qualifications in vocational studies, half a percentage more than in 2016, representing 18.1% of the population. The number of people who were educated to secondary school level rose by 10,142 and was 0.4 tenths of a point more than two years previously, standing at 21.9% of the population. In contrast, the number of people educated to primary school level or lower fell by 27,534, which was a decrease of 1.7 percentage points in 2018 (34.2%) in respect of 2016.

Taking into account the gender variable, women stood out in university studies, 28% compared to 23.4% for men. This was also the case in primary school or lower level studies (36.6% of women compared to 31.7% of men). However, the most notable differences were found among people who were studying or had studied a vocational training qualification. At this level the proportion of men (22.2%) was higher than that of women (14.3%). Finally, more men (22.7%) than women (21.1%) were educated to secondary school level.


Compared to 1986, there was an increase in the population with secondary school, vocational or university level education accompanied by a reduction in the number of those educated to primary school level or lower. Specifically, since 1986 there has been a 5.4 percentage point increase in people with vocational training studies; the percentage of people with secondary school studies doubled, going from 10.4% to 21.9%; and the percentage of people with higher university level studies tripled, from 6.5% to 18.3% since 1986. In turn, the weight of the lowest educational levels fell: pre-school and primary level education dropped by 20.3 percentage points; people with no formal education went from 12.8% to 2.2% and finally, people who do not know how to read was down 0.3%.

The illiteracy rate among those aged 10 and over was 0.3% in 2018: 0.2% in the case of men and 0.4% in the case of women. This rate was particularly high among older people and, therefore, while the rate stood at 0.1% for the under 65s, it jumped to 0.8% for the over 65s. In relation to 2016, the illiteracy rate was down by one percentage point.

The differences in level of education by province were small. Comparatively, a higher proportion of individuals were educated to secondary school level in Álava, 23%, compared to 21.9% for the Basque Country as a whole. Bizkaia and Gipuzkoa show similar percentages, 21.8% and 21.6%, respectively. Bizkaia is the territory that stands out in university studies, topping the Basque Country average by 8 tenths, reaching 26.6% of the population. Gipuzkoa registered 25.1% and Álava 24%. Finally, Gipuzkoa, with 19.2%, was up 1.1 percentage points on the Basque Country as a whole in terms of the proportion of people that had undertaken vocational training qualifications. Álava recorded 18.3% and Bizkaia 17.4%.

The distribution of level of education by region presented greater differences. Regions whose level of university education stood out included Plentzia-Mungia (35.1%), Donostia-San Sebastián (28.2%), Estribaciones del Gorbea (27.5%), and Gran Bilbao (27.2%). In terms of the level of vocational training, the regions of Valles Alaveses (22.2%), Encartaciones (22.1%), Alto Deba (21.8%), Cantábrica Alavesa (21.4%) and Arratia-Nervión (21.3%) all stood out. The most prominent regions in terms of levels of secondary education were Bajo Bidasoa (24%), Rioja Alavesa (23.9%) and Llanada Alavesa (23.5%).

Over half of the population, 57.6%, held a secondary school, vocational training or university qualification in 2018

Based on the level of qualifications, in 2018 20.6% of the population over 10 years of age held an intermediate-higher or higher university qualification. This proportion rose to 22.8% in the case of women, whilst it stayed at 18.2% in the case of men. Compared to 2016, the number of intermediate-higher and higher qualifications increased by 0.8 percentage points.

The population holding vocational training qualifications also grew from 16.4% in 2016 to 16.7% in 2018. More men held qualifications, 19.9%, than women, 13.8%. The detail of vocational training qualifications shows that there was a clear predominance of advanced level qualification (65.5%)

Furthermore, 20.3% of the population over 10 years of age held a secondary education qualification in 2018. This proportion rose to 21.1% in the case of men, whereas it dropped to 19.6% in the case of women. Compared to 2016, the number of people qualified at this level of education increased by 4 percentage points.

People with a university qualification had the highest relative employment rate in 2018

In 2018, the qualification with the highest relative employment rate was the university degree (93%). This was very closely followed by intermediate and advanced level vocational training (90.4%). At the other extreme, the employment rate among those with no qualifications was 70.4%.


Whilst 47.6% of employed people were women in the population as a whole, this proportion rose to 58.7% amongst those with university level qualifications, the only case in which there was a higher proportion of women employed. For the other levels of qualification, the percentages of men employed varied between 54.5% among those with secondary studies and 61.5% among those without qualifications.


For further information:

Eustat - Euskal Estatistika Erakundea / Basque Statistics Institute C/ Donostia-San Sebastián, 1 01010 Vitoria-Gasteiz Press service: Tel: 945 01 75 62

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25.8% of the population of the Basque Country had been educated at university level in the Basque Country in 2018

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