Parents' levels of education continue to influence which people begin higher education. Only 20 percent of children whose parents lack upper secondary education choose higher education. These are the latest findings of new statistics from Swedish National Agency for Higher Education and Statistics Sweden.
About 45 percent of young people up to age 25 have begun higher education studies, a higher figure than ten years ago. But there are still considerable differences in social standing. In the 2007/08 academic year, one third of all first year students under age 35 had parents who were highly educated. That is to say, their parents had at least three years of post secondary education. But people with highly educated parents only comprise about one fifth of the population. Thus there is still a higher percentage of children with highly educated parents who apply to higher education studies than children of parents who only have compulsory or upper secondary education.
If parents lack upper secondary education, only 20 percent of their children continue on to higher education. If one of the parents has a postgraduate education however, over 85 percent of their children choose higher education. After graduating from higher education, it is also more common that these students continue with postgraduate studies than if their parents had a shorter education.
Considerable differences among different programmes of study
Parents' levels of education also influence what the children choose to study. Children of highly educated parents dominate in programmes of study that require high grades for admittance. In the 2007/08 academic year, the highest percentage with highly educated parents, 70 percent, studied medicine. Those studying to be architects, psychologists and lawyers also had highly educated parents, or 55 percent. Low percentages of students with highly educated parents are found for instance studying to be sociologists, teachers, occupational therapists and dental hygienists, or 13-27 percent.
Men fall behind regardless of parents' level of education
Regardless of parents' level of education, more women than men begin higher education at age 25. This has been true for several years now, but the differences have increased in recent years. The least difference between the sexes is found for children whose parents had postgraduate education.