European Data Sources on Private Higher Education

In addition to PROPHE's main regional table on Europe, we reproduce three tables from Levy's 2012 article "How important is Private Higher Education in Europe?" European Journal of Education, 2012. These tables encompass the European Union, a smaller set of countries than that in the main PROPHE table.

The following note on European Data Sources has been composed in collaboration with Dr. Jan Sadlak, ex-Director of CEPES, the European wing of UNESCO, and with assistance from Dr. Alan Wagner, formerly of OECD. Much of what is said here in connection with UNESCO is pertinent to UNESCO data in Latin America (IESALC) and presumably to other UNESCO regional centers.

Statistics on higher education are collected, under common definitions, by UNESCO, the European Union, and the OECD (three major intergovernmental organizations involved in education and with specialized services for educational statistics).  Countries which are members of more than one organization supply common information on one form and is available to each organization.  The reported data are checked, to a greater or lesser extent, by the respective organizations.  For example, the OECD works with national authorities to confirm what is being reported for a particular statistic, how data reported under national definitions have been adjusted to align with the common international definitions, and overall consistency in data reporting (e.g. totals in a single year; explanation for trends).  Identified gaps and departures in data reporting, with regard to the common international definitions, are noted.

While the above procedures are an important aspect facilitating international comparability of data, a remaining problem is the timely reporting of such requested data.  This is a significant problem in the case of developing countries which often lack institutional mechanisms and resources for such activities. 

National systems may collect, report, and use information under classifications and definitions that differ from those used by the major intergovernmental organizations.  The statistics are available directly from the in-country agencies concerned with assembling the information; the statistics as collected, reported and used for national purposes in any one country may not be comparable to statistics reported in another country.  National agencies may have detailed statistics that are not available through the international data collections.  They may also be made sooner than is the case with the intergovernmental organizations.  In order to make statistics on higher education more widely available internationally, several institutions are now making an effort to collect and present such data. A good example is data on higher education in Central, Eastern and South-East Europe which is presented on the website of the UNESCO-European Centre for Higher Education in Bucharest, Romania (UNESCO-CEPES)  This data is collected from national sources and provides complementary information to that reported by intergovernmental organizations, for whom common classifications and definitions apply.  The UNESCO-CEPES data also includes notes on coverage, to enable users to interpret and compare the reported statistics.





Program for Research on Private Higher Education

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