International Standard Classification of Education

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The International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) is a statistical framework for organizing information on education maintained by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). It is a member of the international family of economic and social classifications of the United Nations.[1]

History[edit]

The ISCED was designed in the early 1970s to serve ‘as an instrument suitable for assembling, compiling and presenting statistics of education both within individual countries and internationally’.[2] The first version, known as ISCED 1976, was approved by the International Conference on Education (Geneva, 1975), and was subsequently endorsed by UNESCO’s 19th General Conference in 1976.

The second version, known as ISCED 1997, was approved by the UNESCO General Conference at its 29th session in November 1997 as part of efforts to increase the international comparability of education statistics. It covered primarily two cross-classification variables: levels (7) and fields of education (25). The UNESCO Institute for Statistics led the development of a third version, which was adopted by UNESCO’s 36th General Conference in November 2011 and which will replace ISCED 1997 in international data collections in the coming years.[3] ISCED 2011 has 9 rather than 7 levels, created by dividing the tertiary pre-doctorate level into three levels. It also extended the lowest level (ISCED 0) to cover a new sub-category of early childhood educational development programmes, which target children below the age of 3 years.

During the review and revision, which led to the adoption of ISCED 2011, UNESCO Member States agreed that the fields of education should be examined in a separate process. This review is now underway with the view to establishing an independent but related classification called the ISCED Fields of Education and Training.

Related materials from the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training and also Eurostat provide further information and statistical guidance for the classification of sub-fields of education as a companion to ISCED. [4][5]

Content[edit]

ISCED 1997 levels of education[edit]

Level Description Principal characteristics
0 Pre-primary education Initial stage of organized instruction, designed primarily to introduce very young children to a school-type environment and to develop their cognitive, physical, social and emotional skills. Designed for children from age 3 to the start of primary education.
1 Primary education or first stage of basic education Normally starting between the ages of 5 - 7, designed to give a sound basic education in reading, writing and mathematics along with an elementary understanding of other subjects.
2 Lower secondary education or second stage of basic education Designed to complete basic education, usually on a more subject-oriented pattern. It builds upon the learning outcomes from primary education (ISCED level 1) and aims to lay the foundation for lifelong learning and human development.
3 Upper secondary education More specialized education typically beginning at age 15 or 16 years and/or completes secondary education in preparation for tertiary education, or to provide skills relevant to employment, or both.
4 Post-secondary non-tertiary education Programmes that straddle the boundary between upper- and post-secondary education from an international point of view. ISCED level 4 programmes, considering their content, cannot be regarded as tertiary programmes. They are often not significantly more advanced than programmes at ISCED level 3 but they serve to broaden the knowledge of participants who have already completed a programme at level 3.
5 First stage of tertiary education Tertiary programmes having an educational content more advanced than those offered at ISCED levels 3 and 4. These programmes may be academically based or practically oriented / occupationally specific. Entry to these programmes normally requires the successful completion of ISCED level 3A or 3B or a similar qualification at ISCED level 4A. All degrees and qualifications are cross-classified by type of programmes, position in national degree or qualification structures and cumulative duration at tertiary.
6 Second stage of tertiary education Tertiary programmes leading to the award of an advanced research qualification, e.g. Ph.D. These programmes are therefore devoted to advanced study and original research and are not based on course-work only. It typically requires the submission of a thesis or dissertation of publishable quality which is the product of original research and represents a significant contribution to knowledge.

ISCED 2011 levels of education and comparison with ISCED 1997[edit]

Level ISCED 2011 Description Corresponding ISCED 1997 level
0 Early childhood Education (01 Early childhood educational development) Education designed to support early development in preparation for participation in school and society. Programmes designed for children below the age of 3. None
0 Early childhood Education (02 Pre-primary education) Education designed to support early development in preparation for participation in school and society. Programmes designed for children from age 3 to the start of primary education. Level 0: Pre-primary education.
1 Primary education Programmes typically designed to provide students with fundamental skills in reading, writing and mathematics and to establish a solid foundation for learning. Level 1: Primary education or first stage of basic education.
2 Lower secondary education First stage of secondary education building on primary education, typically with a more subject-oriented curriculum. Level 2: Lower secondary education or second stage of basic education
3 Upper secondary education Second/final stage of secondary education preparing for tertiary education and/or providing skills relevant to employment. Usually with an increased range of subject options and streams. Level 3: Upper secondary education
4 Post-secondary non-tertiary education Programmes providing learning experiences that build on secondary education and prepare for labour market entry and/or tertiary education. The content is broader than secondary but not as complex as tertiary education. Level 4: Post-secondary non-tertiary education
5 Short-cycle tertiary education Short first tertiary programmes that are typically practically-based, occupationally-specific and prepare for labour market entry. These programmes may also provide a pathway to other tertiary programmes. Level 5B: First stage of tertiary education: typically shorter, more practical/technical/occupationally specific prgrammes leading to professional qualifications.
6 Bachelor or equivalent Programmes designed to provide intermediate academic and/or professional knowledge, skills and competencies leading to a first tertiary degree or equivalent qualification. Level 5A: First stage of tertiary education: largely theoretically based programmes intended to provide qualifications for gaining entry into more advanced research programmes and professions with higher skills requirements.
7 Master or equivalent Programmes designed to provide advanced academic and/or professional knowledge, skills and competencies leading to a second tertiary degree or equivalent qualification. Level 5A: First stage of tertiary education: largely theoretically based programmes intended to provide qualifications for gaining entry into more advanced research programmes and professions with higher skills requirements.
8 Doctoral or equivalent Programmes designed primarily to lead to an advanced research qualification, usually concluding with the submission and defence of a substantive dissertation of publishable quality based on original research. Level 6: Second stage of tertiary education (leading to an advanced research qualification).

ISCED 2011 levels, categories, and sub-categories[edit]

Source: [6]

0 EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION
01 Early childhood educational development
010 Early childhood educational development
02 Pre-primary education
020 Pre-primary education
1 PRIMARY EDUCATION 
10 Primary education
100 Primary education
2 LOWER SECONDARY EDUCATION
24 General
241 Insufficient for level completion or partial level completion, without direct access to upper secondary education
242 Sufficient for partial level completion, without direct access to upper secondary education
243 Sufficient for level completion, without direct access to upper secondary education
244 Sufficient for level completion, with direct access to upper secondary education
25 Vocational
251 Insufficient for level completion or partial level completion, without direct access to upper secondary education
252 Sufficient for partial level completion, without direct access to upper secondary education
253 Sufficient for level completion, without direct access to upper secondary education
254 Sufficient for level completion, with direct access to upper secondary education
3 UPPER SECONDARY EDUCATION
34 General
341 Insufficient for level completion or partial level completion, without direct access to tertiary education
342 Sufficient for partial level completion, without direct access to tertiary education
343 Sufficient for level completion, without direct access to tertiary education
344 Sufficient for level completion, with direct access to tertiary education
35 Vocational
351 Insufficient for level completion or partial level completion, without direct access to tertiary education
352 Sufficient for partial level completion, without direct access to tertiary education
353 Sufficient for level completion, without direct access to tertiary education
354 Sufficient for level completion, with direct access to tertiary education
4 POST-SECONDARY NON-TERTIARY EDUCATION
44 General
441 Insufficient for level completion, without direct access to tertiary education
443 Sufficient for level completion, without direct access to tertiary education 
444 Sufficient for level completion, with direct access to tertiary education
45 Vocational
451 Insufficient for level completion, without direct access to tertiary education
453 Sufficient for level completion, without direct access to tertiary education 
454 Sufficient for level completion with, direct access to tertiary education
5 SHORT-CYCLE TERTIARY EDUCATION
54 General
541 Insufficient for level completion
544 Sufficient for level completion
55 Vocational
551 Insufficient for level completion
554 Sufficient for level completion
6 BACHELOR’S OR EQUIVALENT LEVEL
64 Academic
641 Insufficient for level completion
645 First degree (3-4 years)
646 Long first degree (more than 4 years)
647 Second or further degree (following a Bachelor’s or equivalent programme)
65 Professional
651 Insufficient for level completion
655 First degree (3-4 years)
656 Long first degree (more than 4 years)
657 Second or further degree (following a Bachelor’s or equivalent programme)
66 Orientation unspecified1
661 Insufficient for level completion
665 First degree (3-4 years)
666 Long first degree (more than 4 years)
667 Second or further degree (following a Bachelor’s or equivalent programme)
7 MASTER’S OR EQUIVALENT LEVEL
74 Academic
741 Insufficient for level completion
746 Long first degree (at least 5 years)
747 Second or further degree (following a Bachelor’s or equivalent programme)
748 Second or further degree (following a Master’s or equivalent programme)
75 Professional
751 Insufficient for level completion
756 Long first degree (at least 5 years)
757 Second or further degree (following a Bachelor’s or equivalent programme)
758 Second or further degree (following a Master’s or equivalent programme)
76 Orientation unspecified1
761 Insufficient for level completion
766 Long first degree (at least 5 years)
767 Second or further degree (following a Bachelor’s or equivalent programme)
768 Second or further degree (following a Master’s or equivalent programme)
8 DOCTORAL OR EQUIVALENT LEVEL
84 Academic
841 Insufficient for level completion
844 Sufficient for completion of level
85 Professional
851 Insufficient for level completion
854 Sufficient for completion of level
86 Orientation unspecified
861 Insufficient for level completion
864 Sufficient for completion of level
9 NOT ELSEWHERE CLASSIFIED
99 Not elsewhere classified
999 Not elsewhere classified

ISCED 1997 fields of education[edit]

  • 0 General Programmes
    • 01 Basic programmes
    • 08 Literacy and numeracy
    • 09 Personal development
  • 1 Education
    • 14 Teacher training and education science
  • 2 Humanities and Arts
    • 21 Arts
    • 22 Humanities
  • 3 Social sciences, business and law
    • 31 Social and behavioural science
    • 32 Journalism and information
    • 34 Business and administration
    • 38 Law
  • 4 Science
    • 42 Life sciences
    • 44 Physical sciences
    • 46 Mathematics and statistics
    • 48 Computing
  • 5 Engineering, manufacturing and construction
    • 52 Engineering and engineering trades
    • 54 Manufacturing and processing
    • 58 Architecture and building
  • 6 Agriculture
    • 62 Agriculture, forestry and fishery
    • 64 Veterinary
  • 7 Health and welfare
    • 72 Health
    • 76 Social services
  • 8 Services
    • 81 Personal services
    • 84 Transport services
    • 85 Environmental protection
    • 86 Security services
  • Not known or unspecified

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ United Nations Statistics Division: UN Classifications Registry, retrieved 30-03-2011.
  2. ^ UNESCO. 2006. International Standard Classification of Education: ISCED 1997. http://www.uis.unesco.org/Library/Documents/isced97-en.pdf
  3. ^ Revision of the International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED), retrieved 05-04-2012.
  4. ^ European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training and Eurostat. 1999. Manual: Fields of training. http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/en/Files/5092_EN.PDF
  5. ^ Eurostat, 1999. Manual: Fields of education and training. https://circabc.europa.eu/sd/d/a80a1f5a-6c22-47e3-b7d2-d5accd289b00/fields_of_education_education_and_training_manual_en.pdf
  6. ^ Annex III in [1]

External links[edit]