How to use the visualizations



The diagrams include the most representative mainstream educational programmes of formal educational systems – from early childhood education to tertiary level programmes.

The diagrams encompass:

  1. Early childhood education and care provided in publicly-subsidized and accredited centre-based settings for children from the youngest age of enrolment.
  2. Primary and secondary education programmes.
  3. Post-secondary non-tertiary programmes.
  4. Tertiary-level programmes.


The diagrams do not cover:

  1. Educational provision intended exclusively for adults with low formal educational attainment and/or low level of basic skills (The diagrams cover only the courses allowing adults to go back to school or to gain further qualifications that are part of mainstream education programmes. Usually, these courses are integrated in the programmes providing competence-based qualifications at the secondary education level or allowing access to tertiary education (i.e. the post-secondary non-tertiary education level).
  2. Separate provision outside mainstream education for children and young people with special educational needs.
  3. Tertiary level, doctoral studies.


Main elements of the diagrams and graphic layout

3.2 1 Main elements: The diagrams are based on the age of students and programme duration; and the level and type of education:

  1. Age of students and programme duration scales:


Student age: The student age scale indicates the age of pupils and students when they start each level of education from pre-primary onwards (ISCED levels 0 to 4). These ages are theoretical and give an indication of the official age at which children might begin early childhood education and care or compulsory education. Early or late entry, grade retention or other interruptions to schooling as well as adult learning are not taken into account.

Programme duration: The programme duration (years) scale applies to tertiary level programmes and refers to the standard number of years necessary to complete studies at different stages on a full-time basis. The duration of part-time studies or individualized study patterns is not shown.


Levels and types of education 

The main bars of the diagrams (thick coloured bars) show the national educational systems with different colours representing the different levels and types of education. Within the coloured bars, short vertical lines either show the division into cycles/key stages/education levels, or entry to or leaving ages for study programmes.


A second thin bar with coloured stripes indicates the corresponding levels of education as defined by ISCED 2011, from ISCED 0 to ISCED 7 (see description in Section 2). In a few cases, the diagrams also show transition points between ISCED levels or education programmes. Long vertical lines linking coloured bars (education programmes) show these transition points.


3.2.2 Additional criteria: Additional criteria are used to harmonize the design of the diagrams for tertiary education. The diagrams group programmes with equal ISCED levels, theoretical entry age, and duration, in the same thin bar. This helps the reader understand the organization of the educational programmes of each country with a synthetic approach.


Tertiary education programmes are ordered from top to bottom as follows:

  • Bachelor’s degree
  • Master’s degree /specialization
  • ISCED 6 Bachelor in specialized studies
  • ISCED 7 Bachelor in specialized studies
  • Short-cycle tertiary education

If a programme requires the certification of another tertiary education programme for its entry, it is placed next to it.


Tertiary education programmes are ordered from left to right as follows:

  • Programmes that require ISCED 4 or less for admission (usually a Bachelor’s degree or short cycle tertiary programmes) are placed in the "0" axis position.
  • ISCED 7 programmes for which entrance requirements include certification of ISCED 5 or 6 programmes for entry are positioned at the final year of those programmes based on their theoretical duration, separated by a vertical line.
  • The same criteria are used for all tertiary education programmes that have another tertiary education programme completion certificate as an entrance requirement.
  • If the country has Bachelor’s degree programmes with a different theoretical duration, the ISCED 7 bar is positioned at the end of the lowest theoretical duration of those levels.


3.2.3 Graphic layout: The graphic layout of the diagrams is divided into columns of coloured bars (see Section 3.3).


The coloured bars on the left depict the main educational programmes from pre-primary to post-secondary non-tertiary levels (ISCED levels 0 to 4) in relation to the age of students when they start a particular programme. The ages indicate the theoretical age at which students are supposed to enter an education level in that country or begin a study programme. (Early or late entry, grade retention or other interruption to schooling are not taken into account.)


The coloured bars on the right show the main programmes at the tertiary level in relation to the standard number of years necessary to complete these programmes on a full-time basis. The duration of part-time studies or individualized study patterns are not presented.