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ISCED 2011 Operational Manual

Guidelines for Classifying National Education Programmes and Related Qualifications

image of ISCED 2011 Operational Manual

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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Summary table of ISCED 2011 codes and criteria

Centre for Educational Research and Innovation

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.

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