ISCED 2011 Operational Manual

ISCED 2011 Operational Manual

Guidelines for Classifying National Education Programmes and Related Qualifications You or your institution have access to this content

Centre for Educational Research and Innovation

English
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Author(s):
OECD, Eurostat, UNESCO Institute for Statistics
20 Mar 2015
Pages:
100
ISBN:
9789264228368 (PDF) ;9789264228351(print)
http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264228368-en

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The structure of education systems varies widely between countries. In order to produce internationally comparable education statistics and indicators, it is necessary to have a framework to collect and report data on education programmes with a similar level of educational content. UNESCO’s International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) is the reference classification for organising education programmes and related qualifications by education levels and fields. The basic concepts and definitions of ISCED are intended to be internationally valid and comprehensive of the full range of education systems.

ISCED 2011 is the second major revision of this classification (initially developed in the 1970s and first revised in 1997). It was adopted by the UNESCO General Conference in November 2011. Prepared jointly by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS), the OECD and Eurostat, this operational manual provides guidelines and explanatory notes for the interpretation of the revised classification, by each education level. It also includes country examples of programmes and qualifications that have been classified to ISCED 2011.

This manual will be useful for national statisticians collecting and reporting data on education to international organisations, as well as for policymakers and researchers interested in better understanding of these data.

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Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Table of Contents

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  • Foreword and Acknowledgements

    The structure of education systems varies widely between countries. In order to produce internationally-comparable education statistics and indicators, it is therefore necessary to have a framework to collect and report data on education programmes (and their resulting qualifications) with a similar level of educational content. It is for this purpose that the International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) exists, as the official classification used to categorise and report cross-nationally comparable education statistics.

  • Reader's guide

    The ISCED 2011 Operational Manual is intended to assist countries to classify national education programmes and qualifications in their ISCED mappings. The manual will also help users of international statistics to understand which kinds of programmes and qualifications are covered in indicators on education. It provides guidelines and explanatory notes for the interpretation of the revised classification and includes country examples of programmes and related qualifications that have been classified to ISCED 2011.

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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts ISCED 2011 Overview

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    • ISCED 2011 overview

      The International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) is the reference classification for organising education programmes and related qualifications by education levels and fields. The basic concepts and definitions of ISCED are intended to be internationally valid and comprehensive of the full range of education systems. ISCED 2011 is the second major revision of this classification (initially developed in the 1970s and first revised in 1997). It was adopted by the UNESCO General Conference in November 2011. ISCED 2011 presents a revision of the ISCED 1997 levels of education programmes (ISCED-P) and introduces a related classification of educational attainment levels (ISCED-A) based on recognised educational qualifications. Compared to ISCED 1997 which had seven levels of education, ISCED 2011 now has nine levels of education.

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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts ISCED 2011 levels 0 to 4: From early childhood education to post-secondary non-tertiary education

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    • ISCED 2011 Level 0: Early childhood education

      ISCED level 0 refers to early childhood programmes that have an intentional education component. ISCED level 0 programmes target children below the age of entry into primary education (ISCED level 1). These programmes aim to develop cognitive, physical and socio-emotional skills necessary for participation in school and society. Programmes classified at ISCED level 0 may be referred to in many ways, for example: early childhood education and development, play school, reception, pre-primary, pre-school or educación inicial. For programmes provided in crèches, daycare centres, nurseries or guarderías, it is important to ensure that they meet the ISCED level 0 classification criteria specified. For international comparability purposes, the term ‘early childhood education’ is used to label ISCED level 0.

    • ISCED 2011 Level 1: Primary education

      Primary education usually begins at age 5, 6 or 7, and has a typical duration of six years. Programmes at ISCED level 1 are normally designed to give pupils a sound basic education in reading, writing and mathematics, along with an elementary understanding of other subjects such as history, geography, natural science, social sciences, art and music. The commencement of reading activities alone is not a sufficient criterion for classification of an education programme at ISCED level 1. Programmes classified at ISCED level 1 may be referred to in many ways, for example: primary education, elementary education or basic education (stage 1 or lower grades if an education system has one programme that spans ISCED levels 1 and 2). For international comparability purposes, the term ‘primary education’ is used to label ISCED level 1.

    • ISCED 2011 Level 2: Lower secondary education

      Programmes at the lower secondary education level are designed to lay the foundation across a wide range of subjects and to prepare children and young people for more specialised study at upper secondary and higher levels of education. The beginning – or the end – of lower secondary education often involves a change of school for young students and also a change in the style of instruction. Programmes classified at ISCED level 2 may be referred to in many ways, for example: secondary school (stage one/lower grades), junior secondary school, middle school or junior high school. If a programme spans ISCED levels 1 and 2, the terms elementary education or basic school (second stage/upper grades) are often used. For international comparability purposes, the term ‘lower secondary education’ is used to label ISCED level 2.

    • ISCED 2011 Level 3: Upper secondary education

      Programmes at the upper secondary education level are more specialised than those at lower secondary and offer students more choices and diverse pathways for completing their secondary education. The range of subjects studied by a single student tends to be narrower than at lower levels of education, but the content is more complex and the study more in-depth. Programmes offered are differentiated by orientation and often by broad subject groups. Programmes classified at ISCED level 3 may be referred to in many ways, for example: secondary school (stage two/upper grades), senior secondary school or (senior) high school. For international comparability purposes, the term ‘upper secondary education’ is used to label ISCED level 3.

    • ISCED 2011 Level 4: Post-secondary non-tertiary education

      Programmes at the post-secondary non-tertiary education level are not significantly more complex than those at the upper secondary level. They generally serve to broaden rather than deepen the knowledge, skills and competencies already gained through successful (full) level completion of upper secondary education. They may either be designed to increase options for participants in the labour market or for further studies at the tertiary level or both. Usually, programmes at ISCED level 4 are vocationally oriented. They may be referred to in many ways, for example: technician diploma, primary professional education or préparation aux carrières administratives. For international comparability purposes, the term ‘post-secondary non-tertiary education’ is used to label ISCED level 4.

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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts ISCED levels 5 to 8: Tertiary education

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    • Tertiary Education

      Tertiary education builds on secondary education, providing learning activities in specialised fields of study. It aims at learning at a high level of complexity and specialisation. Tertiary education includes what is commonly understood as academic education but also includes advanced vocational or professional education. There is usually a clear hierarchy between qualifications granted by tertiary education programmes. It comprises ISCED levels 5 (short-cycle tertiary education), 6 (Bachelor’s or equivalent level), 7 (Master’s or equivalent level) and 8 (doctoral or equivalent level). The content of programmes at the tertiary level is more complex and advanced than in lower ISCED levels.

    • ISCED 2011 Level 5: Short-cycle tertiary education

      The content of ISCED level 5 programmes is noticeably more complex than in upper secondary programme(s) giving access to this level. ISCED level 5 programmes serve to deepen knowledge by imparting new techniques, concepts and ideas not generally covered in upper secondary education (whereas ISCED level 4 programmes serve to broaden knowledge and are typically not significantly more advanced than programmes at ISCED level 3). Programmes classified at ISCED level 5 may be referred to in many ways, for example: higher technical education, community college education, technician or advanced/higher vocational training, associate degree, bac+2. For international comparability purposes, the term ‘short-cycle tertiary education’ is used to label ISCED level 5.

    • ISCED 2011 Level 6: Bachelor's or equivalent level

      Programmes at ISCED level 6, or Bachelor’s or equivalent level, are longer and usually more theoretically-oriented than ISCED level 5 programmes. They are often designed to provide participants with intermediate academic and/or professional knowledge, skills and competencies, leading to a first degree or equivalent qualification. They typically have a duration of three to four years of full-time study at the tertiary level. They may include practical components and/or involve periods of work experience as well as theoretically-based studies. They are traditionally offered by universities and equivalent tertiary educational institutions. Programmes classified at ISCED level 6 may be referred to in many ways, for example: Bachelor’s programme, licence or first university cycle. For international comparability purposes, the term ‘Bachelor’s or equivalent level’ is used to label ISCED level 6.

    • ISCED 2011 Level 7: Master's or equivalent level

      Programmes at ISCED level 7, or Master’s or equivalent level, have a significantly more complex content than programmes at ISCED level 6 and are usually more specialised. The content of ISCED level 7 programmes is often designed to provide participants with advanced academic and/ or professional knowledge, skills and competencies, leading to a second degree or equivalent qualification. Programmes at this level may have a substantial research component but do not yet lead to the award of a doctoral qualification. The cumulative duration of studies at the tertiary level thus lasts from usually five to eight years or even longer. Programmes classified at ISCED level 7 may be referred to in many ways, for example: Master programmes or Magister studies. For international comparability purposes, the term ‘Master’s or equivalent level’ is used to label ISCED level 7.

    • ISCED 2011 Level 8: Doctoral or equivalent level

      Programmes at ISCED level 8, or doctoral or equivalent level, are designed primarily to lead to an advanced research qualification. Programmes at this ISCED level are devoted to advanced study and original research and are typically offered only by research-oriented tertiary educational institutions such as universities. Doctoral programmes exist in both academic and professional fields. The theoretical duration of these programmes is three years full-time in most countries, although the actual time that students take to complete the programmes is typically longer. Programmes classified at ISCED level 8 may be referred to in many ways, for example: PhD, DPhil, D.Lit, D.Sc, LL.D, Doctorate or similar terms. For international comparability purposes the term, ‘doctoral or equivalent level’ is used to label ISCED level 8.

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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Annexes

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    • Summary table of ISCED 2011 codes and criteria

      The units of the ISCED classification are education programmes and their related recognised qualifications. http://www.uis.unesco.org/Education/Pages/international-standardclassification- of-education.aspx The ISCED classification uses 3 digits: the first is the educational level, the second and third are complementary dimensions. The ISCED level of an education programme reflects the degree of complexity and specialisation of the content of the programme measured with respect to gradations of learning experiences and the knowledge, skills and competencies the programme is intended to impart. Educational attainment is measured with respect to the highest education programme successfully completed, which is normally certified by a recognised qualification. If the highest education programme is not successfully completed, the level of attainment of the person is their attainment level before entering the programme.

    • Potential educational pathways in ISCED 2011
    • Quick reference of ISCED-P and ISCED-A codes in ISCED 2011
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