Other Countries of the European Union

In the discussion that follows, countries are grouped by the size of their higher education system or R&D expenditures and by geographic proximity. Italy and Spain are EU countries with very large university systems and considerable R&D investments. Next in size are the Northern European countries: The Netherlands, Belgium, and Denmark. Ireland, Greece, and Portugal joined the EU in the 1980s and are the recipients of EU cooperative programs to strengthen their research base. Sweden, Finland, and Austria are the newest EU members, grouped to show their contribution to the EU. Norway and Switzerland are the remaining countries of EFTA. Central European countries are discussed in a group.


Italy has the third largest higher education system in Europe after France and Germany, and the oldest university in Europe, established at Bologna in the 11th century. Five more universities were founded during the 12th and 13th centuries, including Milan (1175), Pavia (1200), Naples (1222), Padua (1222), and La Sapienza in Rome (1310). By the end of the 15th century, there were 15 universities in what is now Italy, 3 less than in France and Germany combined (Academic American Encyclopedia, 1994b). Several were to become notable as scientific centers. Galileo carried out his first telescopic discoveries that helped revolutionize astronomy in 1608-1609 while Professor of Mathematics at the University of Padua in the Venetian Republic. He was also one of the first members of the Accademia de Lincei, which, founded in 1610, qualifies as the world's first modern scientific society.

Liberal access to universities introduced in the 1970s increased enrollments from 950,000 in 1975 to 1.5 million in 1991. (See appendix table 4.) Like France, however, Italy has large numbers of students enrolled and low completion rates for formal degrees. Similar to the growth of community colleges in the United States, the highly expansive sector of Italy's higher education system is that of 3-year programs, geared to acquisition of technical skills and employment by local firms. University programs have not had the same rate of expansion, nor have the number of university teaching and research appointments expanded to educate the larger numbers of students. The number of university degree completions in all fields grew only modestly between 1975 and 1992, at less than 2 percent a year (Bussi, 1992). Italy's first university degree, the laurea, requires an average of 7 years for engineering and 5 years for literature, law, and science. The engineering curriculum has several years of basic engineering science, followed by years of specialized courses with a theoretical orientation. Few courses include industrial applications. Possibly because of the scarcity of faculty, as well as the long duration and theoretical orientation of the engineering degrees, only one-third of those studying engineering complete the program and obtain the laurea. The number of engineering degrees produced annually has increased only slightly in the past 17 years, from 6,900 in 1975 to 7,900 in 1992. The number of natural science degrees increased at about 1 percent per year over this time, mainly from the growing interest of women in studying scientific disciplines (Gov. of Italy, 1990). (See appendix tables 5 and 17.)

Social sciences have attracted and retained increasing numbers of university students, both men and women, in the past decade. By 1992, social science fields represented 20 percent of all first university degrees, compared with 8 percent for engineering and 14 percent for the natural sciences. (See appendix table 22.) Many of those degrees are in economics, since there is a high demand in the labor market for these skills.

Women obtain slightly less than half of the social science degrees (46 percent), but slightly more than half of the natural science degrees (55 percent) and the mathematics and computer science degrees (51 percent). (See appendix table 20.) Scientific disciplines have become attractive because women have good access to research careers in Italy. About 23 percent of the physics professors in Italy are women, compared with 3 percent in the United States. Italian women hold 20 percent of physics bachelor's degrees and 21 percent of the doctorates, compared with 15 percent and 9 percent, respectively, in the United States (AAAS, 1994a).

Italy had a 1993 GDP of $838 billion and invested approximately $10.7 billion in constant dollars, or 1.3 percent of GDP, in total R&D. (See appendix tables 9 and 14.) Industry finances 51.5 percent of total R&D, up from 41 percent in 1987. Defense R&D is approximately 10 percent of government R&D expenditures. There were 30.6 research scientists and engineers per 10,000 persons in the labor force in 1991. During the past decade, total R&D expenditures have grown at an average annual rate of 7.5 percent in constant dollar terms. (See figure 24.) After 10 years of rapidly rising budgets, the growth of government R&D expenditures slowed briefly in 1989, followed by a return to increasing investments in R&D. Despite this heavy investment by government and industry, the goal of R&D expenditures reaching the same proportion of GDP as the other large European partners by the mid-1990s has not been achieved.

Priorities for R&D policy in Italy are directed toward increasing R&D support by government and industry, directing more funds toward new technologies and decreasing funds for nuclear R&D for electricity generation. Foci for R&D in new technologies include biotechnology and fine chemicals, information technologies, new materials, nuclear fusion, telecommunications, optics and lasers, advanced transport, satellites and space craft, and biomedical instruments. Trends in R&D policy point toward streamlined government R&D structures, new incentives for private funding of R&D, and increased European and international cooperation. Italy already invests considerable amounts of R&D funds in international facilities, such as CERN and the ESRF, and is very active in EU and other European cooperative research programs (EC, 1994b).


The first universities in what is now Spain--Salamanca (1218) and Valladolid (1273)--predate the first universities in Germany by a century and were founded more than two centuries before the unification of the country in the late 15th century. By that time two more universities had been established: Barcelona (1450) and Saragossa (1474).

Today, institutions of higher education in Spain include the traditional university Faculties (37 public and 4 private), the newer Higher Technical Schools, and the University Schools, which were both integrated into the Spanish university system after 1970 (Casanueva de Luis, 1992). Approximately 60 percent of the students are enrolled in Faculties, 6 percent in Higher Technical Schools, and about a third in University Schools. Spain has achieved remarkable and continuous growth in university enrollments, doubling the number of students from 500,000 in 1975 to 1.3 million in 1991. (See appendix table 4.) This increased the proportion of the college-age population enrolled in higher education from 20 percent to nearly 40 percent during this same period (Gov. of Spain, 1992). (See appendix table 23.)

Engineering schools controlled admissions and did not follow the general university expansion policy to the same extent, fearing more engineers would depress pay and job prospects (Casanueva de Luis, 1992). Competition is fierce to gain entry into a school of engineering, and there is an average of about six applicants for every opening. Higher education in engineering consists of both long and short programs. The long, 6-year program, is offered in the Faculties and Higher Technical Schools and leads to the title ingeniero superior. The program consists of a 3-year basic scientific cycle, followed by a 3-year cycle of specialized study. Educational reforms are being discussed to shorten the second cycle of this program to 2 years to make it possible to establish equivalencies with degrees awarded elsewhere in the European Union. A short, 3-year program is offered in the University Schools, leading to a degree of technical engineer. Courses taught include engineering technology, data processing, and information technology.

Fields other than science and engineering account for most of the growth in Spanish universities. The number of first university engineering degrees tripled between 1977 and 1991, increasing at about 7 percent a year, but overall university degrees increased at almost twice that rate, 12 percent annually. Natural science degrees grew moderately, at about 3 percent a year. Eleven percent of first university degrees are obtained in the natural sciences, 7 percent in engineering fields, similar to the proportion in these fields in U.S. higher education. (See appendix table 22.)

Women make up the majority of students and graduates in Spanish universities, but relatively few major in engineering fields. (See appendix table 21.) Still, women obtain half of the degrees in the natural sciences, and 40 percent of those in mathematics and computer science. They have begun enrolling in the Higher Technical Schools and obtained 10 percent of the engineering degrees in 1991. (See appendix table 20.)

Spain had a $413 billion 1993 GDP and invested approximately $3.6 billion in total R&D. Almost 44 percent is financed by industry. (See figure 25.) There were 24.6 research scientists and engineers per 10,000 of the labor force in 1990, half of whom work in the university. University research expenditures reached $900 million in 1993, representing one-quarter of all research performed in Spain. Total R&D expenditures increased dramatically at 11.7 percent average annual growth rate between 1983 and 1992, followed by a decrease in the past 2 years. Spain is determined to increase national R&D expenditure levels to be comparable with other advanced European countries. Spain doubled the percent of GDP invested in R&D, from 0.35 to 0.88 percent between 1975 and 1992, but would have to double this rate again to compare with other European countries.

Priority sectors for R&D include information and production technologies, natural resources and agro-industrial technologies, and quality of life. More specifically, the national R&D plan sets priorities for improving the process of innovation and technological development; conservation and optimal exploitation of natural resources; strengthening the competitive capacity of industry, trade, agriculture, and fisheries; strengthening national defense; adaptation; and improving health and the quality of life (Gov. of Spain, N.D.).

The Netherlands

Although the first university in The Netherlands--Leiden--was not established until 1575, it soon became a notable center of European learning. Today, The Netherlands ranks first among the EU countries in growth in higher education; enrollments included 41 percent of the college-age cohort by 1991. (See figure 26.) The Netherlands, like Belgium, has a large percentage (53) of higher education enrollments in non-university institutions. (See appendix table 24.) About one-quarter of these students are taking courses part-time. Women comprise almost half of these enrollments. Programs in non-university institutions are of 4-year duration and have a higher completion rate than universities.

Until recently, traditional universities in The Netherlands, such as Erasmus University in Rotterdam, had programs taking an average of 7 years to complete [38] , similar to German universities. The University Education Act of 1982 reduced the official length (and students' financial support) for first university degrees from 5 to 4 years, but only a few percent of the students complete their courses within 4 years. Twenty percent complete a degree within 5 years. Universities have been able to reduce the average length of first university degrees to 6 years (Coppens, 1992). Recently proposed educational reforms to further reduce the first university degree to 3 years are strongly resisted by the universities (Hellemans, 1994).

First university degrees and degrees in natural sciences and engineering grew steadily from 1975 until 1988 and have declined in absolute numbers since then. (See appendix table 5.) This pattern is similar to that of the United States, with declining degrees linked to a decline in the college-age cohort. The percentages of the college-age cohort with university degrees (8.6 percent) and NS&E degrees (2.3 percent) are relatively low among EU countries, (see appendix table 1) but many more young people obtain an associate degree.

Women enjoy almost equal access to university education, but they are underrepresented in science and engineering (Noordenbos, 1994). Women received 30 percent of the natural science degrees awarded by Dutch universities in 1991, and only 11 percent of the first university engineering degrees in that year. (See appendix table 20.) Engineering fields represented only 3 percent of first university degrees obtained by women. (See appendix table 21.)

The Netherlands had a 1993 GDP of $218 billion and invested about $4 billion or 1.8 percent of GDP in total R&D. (See appendix tables 9 and 14.) Industry finances one-half of total R&D. Most research is performed by industry (53 percent) and universities (25 percent). Defense R&D accounts for less than 2 percent of government budgeted R&D. There were 39.7 RSEs per 10,000 of the labor force in 1989. The Netherlands increased R&D investments moderately from 1975 to 1984, increased very sharply from 1984 to 1987, and maintained this level for several years, with a slight decrease in 1991.

R&D policy for The Netherlands is market oriented with the purpose of improving the competitiveness of Dutch industry. It seeks to broaden the technology base of industry and improve the quality, use, and diffusion of technology. National priorities involve the use of innovation centers, heavy investment in equipment, and the use of major incentive schemes to disseminate knowledge. A key issue in Dutch S&T policy is the internationalization of education and research.


Since 1988, higher education has been autonomous within the Flemish and French communities of the Belgian Federation, representing approximately 60 and 40 percent, respectively, of the total population. The largest universities are the state institutions at Ghent and Liege and the French and Flemish-speaking universities at Louvain (established in 1425), Brussels, and Antwerp.

University enrollment has increased to 38 percent of the college-age cohort in Belgium, among the highest in Europe. (See appendix table 23.) Most of this growth has been in the non-university institutions; 60 percent of enrollees are in associate degree programs. Besides these short-cycle programs, there has been a great increase in 4-year programs in industrial engineering at non-university institutes, because of favorable employment prospects. These 4-year programs have a far higher retention rate than the traditional university programs of 5- to 6-year duration, from which half of the students drop out before completing a degree. The 4-year degree programs have been given the status of first university degrees, as have Fachhochschulen in Germany and polytechnics in the United Kingdom (Bonte, 1992).

It is difficult to describe the growth in NS&E degrees from 1975 to 1991, because of inconsistencies in the data series, possibly from incomplete submissions from the Flemish or French communities. (See Notes on Data Series.) Over the past 6 years, however, there has been a decline in the absolute number of natural science degrees (with no decline in the college-age cohort) and a large increase in engineering degrees. (See appendix tables 5 and 6.) An explosive growth in degrees in economics, based on good employment opportunities, coincided with the decline in natural science degrees. In 1991, students obtained 26 percent of all university degrees in fields of engineering; they obtained another 28 percent in the social sciences. (See appendix table 22.)

Women in Belgium have equal access to higher education and are well represented in several fields of science. Women are 50 percent of the biology and chemistry students in the university, 35 percent of the mathematics and physics students, and 16 percent of the engineering students. (Bonte, 1992.)

Belgium, with a 1993 GDP of approximately $151 billion, invested almost $2.3 billion or 1.7 percent of GDP in R&D (more than 65 percent is funded by industry). (See appendix table 11.) Only 1 percent of total R&D is for defense. There were 44.2 RSEs per 10,000 of the labor force in 1992. Belgium has continually increased investments in R&D, more than 5 percent annually, from 1975 to 1992, in constant dollar terms. A goal is to increase R&D investment to 2.3 percent of GDP by the turn of the century.

The Deputy Prime Minister, responsible for budget and science policy, oversees S&T in Belgium. National R&D priorities are to concentrate funds on information, biotechnology, aerospace, new materials, telecommunications, and oceanography; to increase support for fundamental research and encourage more cooperation between universities and industry; to continue incentives to industry to maintain its high share of overall R&D funding; and to encourage to the maximum, participation in EC and international programs.


The University of Copenhagen was established in 1479. Today, institutions of higher education in Denmark include both research universities in large cities and colleges throughout the country. College programs have a medium cycle (3-4 years) for teacher training, engineering, and social work, while research universities provide a long cycle (5 years). About 16 percent of the college-age cohort obtains a university education. While this percentage has not changed much in the past decade, the percentage of the college-age cohort completing degrees in natural sciences and engineering has (4.7 percent in 1991). This high rate of participation in NS&E degrees is second only to Germany among Western European countries. Fields of engineering have become some of the most popular majors in the university in Denmark (Traberg and Bache, 1992). In 1991, 21 percent of all university degrees were in engineering, 8 percent in the natural sciences, and 5 percent in the social sciences. (See appendix table 22.) Doctoral degrees, usually pursued as part of a research career, increased greatly after 1987, numbering 416 in 1991. More than 60 percent of these degrees were in science and engineering.

More women than men receive a university education in Denmark: 18 percent of the female college-age population obtained a university degree in 1991; 14 percent of males obtained such a degree. (See appendix table 25.) Women are relatively well represented in engineering departments and earned 19 percent of first university degrees in engineering in 1991. (See appendix table 20.)

Denmark, with a 1993 GDP of about $78 billion, applied approximately $1.4 billion or 1.7 percent of GDP to R&D, with 51 percent of that amount coming from industry. (See appendix tables 9 and 10.) There were 41.4 RSEs per 10,000 of the labor force in 1991. During the past 12 years, total R&D expenditures have grown 6.7 percent per year in constant dollar terms, with the business sector R&D contributing most of this growth. A national goal is 2.3 percent of GDP expended for R&D by the year 2000. Maintaining the same rate of increase in R&D until the year 2000 would allow that R&D goal to be reached.

The Ministry of Education and Research and the Ministry of Industry are responsible for S&T in Denmark. Science and technology are priority areas for national policy, and research is supported in strategic areas of industrial and societal needs. Industrial research focuses on drugs and medicine, machinery, and small enterprises. The six high-priority areas in the public sector include biotechnology, environmental research, information technology, cancer research, materials research, and health and nutrition (Gov. of Denmark, 1993a). The government is fostering knowledge-intensive industries in science parks and making special efforts to disseminate public sector research results to Denmark's predominantly small- and medium-sized enterprises (Gov. of Denmark, 1993b).


Ireland has doubled higher education enrollments since 1975, reaching more than 100,000 students by 1991. A little more than half of these enrollments are in traditional universities, such as the University of Dublin and Trinity College, both founded in 1592, and the National University, founded in 1909, with constituent colleges in Dublin, Galway, Cork, and Maynooth. Almost half the students are enrolled in non-university institutions, including nine regional technical colleges, a National Institute for Higher Education in Limerick, and five teacher-training colleges.

Following this enrollment pattern, Irish universities doubled the annual number of degrees they conferred in all fields between 1975 and 1991. This increase in first university degrees represented an average annual growth rate of 5.8 percent. NS&E degrees grew even faster, shifting the share of S&E degrees in the university from 31 to 35 percent. (See appendix table 22.) The number of NS&E degrees conferred annually tripled from 1975 to 1991, representing a 6.4-percent annual increase in natural science degrees, and a 7.1-percent increase in engineering degrees. Ireland's research universities provide particularly strong training in biotechnology. Ireland has acquired an ability to contribute to and receive funding from the EU Framework Program in life sciences and technology, and from EUREKA projects in biotechnology in collaboration with other European countries (EC, 1994b).

Men and women in Ireland have equal access to university education, but the male college-age cohort has twice the participation rate in NS&E degrees as the female: 6 and 3 percent, respectively. (See appendix table 25.) Women received half of the natural science degrees in 1991, 61 percent of the social science degrees, but only 13 percent of the engineering degrees that year. (See appendix table 20.)

Ireland, with a 1993 GDP of $35.7 billion, spent approximately $422 million or 1.1 percent of GDP on total R&D. Industry increased its share of R&D funding to 65 percent in 1992, up from 50 percent in 1988. (See appendix tables 9 and 11.) There were 57.6 RSEs per 10,000 of the labor force in 1991. There were modest increases in total R&D from 1975 to 1983, with continually high rates of growth since then (almost 10 percent annually). International sources of funding provided 10 percent of R&D support by 1992, particularly from EU and EUREKA schemes that encourage industrial partnerships.

The Ministry of Science and Technology operating within the Department of Industry and Commerce is responsible for S&T policy in Ireland. All R&D expenditures in Ireland are for civil research. Strategic national priorities for R&D emphasize application-oriented research in biotechnology, engineering, advanced materials, and information technology. S&T expenditures have declined in agriculture and energy sectors and increased in the manufacturing sector.


The University of Athens, founded in 1836, is the oldest of the 17 university-level institutions in Greece. The National Technical University of Athens, the foremost school of engineering and a major research institution, provides a 5-year program for the first university degree (Ptychion). Rapid industrialization in Greece in the 1960s and early 1970s dramatically increased the demand for education, particularly at the tertiary level. The government sets quotas for new entrants to universities, but they are far below the social demand for higher education. Only 25 percent of the college-age cohort is enrolled in higher education in Greece, the lowest percentage in the EU. (See appendix table 23.)

The solution for this unmet demand for higher education has been study abroad. Greece has the second largest percentage of students studying abroad, surpassed only by Luxembourg, which has no university-level institutions. Students not admitted to universities in Greece tend to study in Italy, Germany, France, and the United Kingdom. These countries have policies of no higher tuition costs for students from other EU member countries (Sianou, 1991). In addition, students from Greece obtain more S&E doctoral degrees from U.S. universities than students from any other European country (NSF, 1993b). More women than men obtain a university degree in Greece, but this may reflect more male students studying abroad. (See appendix table 25.) Women receive 43 percent of the natural science degrees, 51 percent of the social science degrees, and 23 percent of the engineering degrees. (See appendix table 20.) This high representation of women in engineering majors may also be a consequence of more males going abroad to study engineering.

Greece, with a 1993 GDP of $67.5 billion, expended approximately $287 million or 0.45 percent of GDP on total R&D. Defense R&D is 5.5 percent of total government R&D. (See appendix table 9.) RSEs reached 15.4 per 10,000 of the labor force in 1991. (See appendix table 12.) R&D investments grew rapidly in the 1980s, 15 percent annually from a low base, and have leveled off in the 1990s. Foreign sources of funding reached a significant proportion (19 percent) of total R&D in 1992. (See appendix table 11.) Greece is benefiting from EU and EUREKA programs to increase geographic equity in R&D and raise the level of scientific research and industrial competitiveness throughout poorer countries in Europe. Unlike Ireland, however, Greek industry has not funded the majority of R&D investments. Greek industry has slightly decreased its typical contribution of 25 percent of overall R&D funding to 22 percent in 1992.

National R&D priorities are to establish the institutional infrastructure for S&T development, enhance the quality of S&T outputs, exploit R&D results, assimilate important technologies, and improve public opinion about the importance of R&D for economic and social development. Areas targeted for special emphasis include social and human sciences, information technology, biotechnology, and development of industrial research.


Universities established in Portugal prior to the end of the 15th century include Lisbon (1288) and Coimbra (1290). Portugal has greatly expanded and diversified its higher education system, mainly in the coastal district in Lisbon, Porto, Coimbra, and Aveiro. The number of universities offering the Licenciado degree, (5- to 6-year program) has substantially increased, now numbering 14 public and 6 private institutions. After 1977, new private polytechnic institutions were established to provide professional skills demanded by economic development and now number 14 public and 35 private institutions. This rapid expansion of higher education was fed by the ballooning of upper-secondary-school completions, from 15 percent in the 1960s to 65 percent in 1989 (Valdares, 1992).

While the percentage of the college-age cohort enrolled in higher education has increased from 11 to 23 from 1975 to 1991, Portugal has the lowest participation rate in higher education of EU countries, except for Greece. In most EU countries, 30 to 40 percent of the college-age cohort is enrolled in higher education. (See appendix table 23.) Portugal would like to reach EU enrollment levels as well as degree completions. Currently, between 6 and 7 percent of the college-age population obtains a university degree, and less than 2 percent receive NS&E degrees, the lowest rate in the EU. (See appendix table 1.) Portugal would like to double this, through expansion of polytechnics for employment-oriented coursework (as Germany has done), not through expansion of traditional universities.

The participation rates in science and engineering, while low, are almost equal for men and women in Portugal. Women dominate in the natural sciences; more women than men major in the natural sciences (69 percent). More men than women major in engineering (70 percent). (See appendix table 20.) Portuguese government statistics show that, during the 1980s, 50 percent of the Ph.D.s in mathematics, physics, chemistry, and biology were awarded to women (AAAS, 1994a).

Portugal had a 1993 GDP of $74 billion and allocated approximately $536 million, or 0.75 percent, of GDP to total R&D. (See appendix tables 9 and 14.) Portugal has invested very steadily in R&D since 1975, at an average annual increase of 12 percent, but from a low base. RSEs increased to 12.4 per 10,000 persons in the labor force during this time. The Government of Portugal still provides the majority of funding for R&D investments (60 percent in 1992). (See appendix table 11.) Industry funds 20 percent of total R&D, and foreign funding, which would imply participation in EU and EUREKA programs, provides approximately 15 percent. The EU promotes collaboration between the most advanced European countries and the less developed countries such as Greece, Portugal, and Ireland, to increase geographic equity in research capabilities.

New investments in R&D are expected to materialize as a result of the recent establishment of a Ministry of Science. National priorities for R&D include programs for applied research directed to end users, strengthening basic research in universities, promoting mobility in science, and developing joint programs between research institutions and industry. A major priority is to strengthen S&T infrastructure as well as education of S&T researchers. Key areas for research programs are biotechnology, robotics/microelectronics, materials science, and marine science. A national goal has been to steadily increase the resources committed to R&D.


The oldest and largest university in Sweden is in Uppsala and dates from 1477. Other major universities established since the 17th century are in Lund, Göteborg, Stockholm, Umeå, and Linköping. Specialized institutes of higher education and research include the Karolinska Institute (medicine), the Royal Institute of Technology, Chalmers Institute of Technology, Luleå University College and Institute of Technology, the Stockholm School of Economics, and Stockholm Institute of Education. Most higher education institutions are run by the central government; university faculty are national civil servants. The higher education reforms of 1991 and 1993 aim to deregulate the higher education system, giving institutions greater autonomy and allocating grants between institutions based on achievements (The Swedish Institute, 1994).

The number of admissions to higher education in Sweden grew dramatically in the 1960s, remained constant in the 1970s and 1980s, and again grew rapidly after 1991. Therefore, the educational statistics have changed little during the 17-year time series used in this report. The data for 1975 to 1991 show that there have been relatively small increases in enrollment in higher education, from 162,000 in 1975 to 207,000 in 1991, only a 1.5-percent annual increase. Similarly, the number of first university degrees has increased by only 1 percent per year during the 1975 to 1991 period (Gov. of Sweden, 1993). Therefore, the percentage of college-age students with university degrees has remained relatively constant, at about 13 percent during this time period. (See appendix table 7.) By 1994, however, university enrollments were 25 percent higher than in 1991.

University admissions remain very competitive, even though the college-age cohort is dwindling. Many more students are taking the 4-year college track in upper secondary school, rather than the 2-year vocational curricula. Better prepared students are competing for a fixed number of places. Work experience gives additional credits with which to compete for admission to attractive disciplines. The proportion of first time enrollees returning to the education system after years of working has grown since the 1960s. This has substantially broadened the age distribution of first year students at colleges and universities. About 60 percent are older than 25 years old. The age segment used for the college-age cohort in Sweden in this report is 25 to 29 (Forneng and Andersson, 1992).

The only change in higher education statistics shown by the available data (1975 to 1991) has been the shift toward more degrees in science and engineering in the 1980s. Admission quotas to universities and particular disciplines are controlled by the Riksdag (parliament), which increased the number of S&E admissions by 50 percent when Sweden's economic boom of the early 1980s created a demand for scientists and engineers. NS&E degrees grew from 2,400 in 1982 to 4,000 in 1991, representing more than a 6-percent average annual increase. (See appendix table 5.) The percentage of college-age students with NS&E degrees grew from 2.1 to 3.4 percent during this time. (See appendix table 8.) Future demands on the higher education system for more engineers, biologists, chemists, and economists are expected, as the service sector expands and manufacturing trades decline.

In Sweden, more women than men receive a university education, but only a small percentage of total female university degrees are earned in fields of science or engineering fields compared with other European countries. (See figure 27.) Fifteen percent of the female college-age cohort obtained a university degree in some field in 1991, while only 11 percent of males obtained such a degree. This imbalance partly results from the Educational Reform Acts of 1977, in which all forms of post-secondary education, including highly vocational fields, such as nursing and pre-school teacher training, were incorporated into higher education and administered by the university. Women obtain the vast majority of these degrees. The share of S&E degrees received by women is also quite high. In 1991, they received 54 percent of the natural science degrees, 30 percent of the mathematics and computer science degrees, 78 percent of social science degrees, and 21 percent of all engineering degrees.

Sweden invested heavily in science and knowledge industries during the economic boom of the 1980s. From 1988 to the present, however, growth in R&D expenditures in Sweden has been slower. With a 1993 GDP of $121 billion, Sweden invested approximately 3.8 billion or 3.1 percent of GDP in R&D, the highest in Europe and also in the world. (See figure 28.) From 1975 to 1988, Sweden increased investments in R&D by 6 percent annually; from 1988 to 1993, R&D investments grew at less than 1 percent. Swedish industry heavily funded R&D throughout this period, reaching 61 percent of total R&D in 1992. Industry's increasing R&D expenditures, particularly in telecommunications equipment and pharmaceuticals, offset the recent slight decline in government R&D expenditures. This investment in research has increased RSEs per 10,000 persons in the labor force from 36 in 1975 to 56 in 1991. (See appendix tables 11, 12, and 14.)


Finland's sparse population of 5 million is one of the most educated in the world [39] . Half of the college-age cohort in Finland is enrolled in higher education--the highest ratio in Europe. (See appendix table 23.) Finland's 20 institutions of higher education are mainly in the southern temperate region of the country, including the University of Helsinki, established in 1640, three in Turku, the oldest university town, and two in Tampere. Of these, Helsinki is by far the largest, educating one-quarter of all university students. Newer universities have been established in the North, Central, and West coast of Finland.

Finland has a restricted definition of university education and has not incorporated professional education into the university system. Students undergo intense competition for admission because of a restricted number of places in all fields. The first university degree in Finland requires an average of 5 to 7 years for completion. Two-thirds of the students in higher education are enrolled in such programs. One-third of the students in higher education in Finland enroll in shorter programs in vocational institutions, now numbering around 682, and offering 3- to 5-year programs. Vocational education is offered in electrical, mechanical, and chemical engineering and in 22 other branches of learning to prepare students to enter working life directly or to enter advanced training. The level and breadth of Finnish vocational curricula may compare favorably with the undergraduate-level curricula in other countries (Hopkins, 1990).

The data reported here, for formal university programs only, show that overall university degrees increased moderately between 1975 to 1991, growing at an annual rate of 1.6 percent. Natural science and social science degrees awarded annually have declined slightly in absolute numbers during this period, while the number of engineering degrees received annually has tripled. Almost one-quarter of total university degrees obtained in 1991 were in fields of engineering. (See figure 29.) Since Finland's college-age population declined between 1975 and 1995, this attraction to engineering degrees has resulted in a high participation rate in technical degrees. More than 6 percent of the college-age cohort obtains a university degree in science or engineering, the highest percentage in Western Europe. When this is disaggregated for men and women, the data show that 10 percent of young Finnish men obtain an NS&E degree and 2.8 percent of young Finnish women obtain such a degree. Women receive the majority of natural and social science degrees at the university level, but only 13 percent of the engineering degrees.

Finland, with a 1993 GDP of $621 billion, invested approximately $1.4 billion or 2.2 percent of GDP on total R&D. Industry funded more than 60 percent of R&D in the late 1980s, but has cut back funding somewhat in 1990-1993. The number of RSEs more than doubled, from 6,000 to 14,000 between 1975 and 1991, reaching 54 per 10,000 of the labor force by 1991. Finland maintained high growth in R&D investments, while the economy grew in the 1980s, and has been able to increase R&D spending in the 1990s even while the GDP declined 4.6 percent in the 1990-1993 period. This required increased government funding, particularly in the past 2 years, to offset the decline in industrial support of R&D. (See appendix tables 9, 11, and 14.)


The University of Vienna was established in 1365. Austria is one of the few European countries that has not developed associate-level degrees or short-cycle programs of higher education with a practical orientation. While enrollments doubled in the period from 1975 to 1991, the vast majority of them (93 percent) are in full university degree programs. Thirty-five percent of the college-age population were enrolled in universities in 1991, up from 19 percent in 1975 (Lassnigg, Loudon, and Spreitzer, 1992).

First university degrees in all fields doubled in the past 16 years, from around 4,000 in 1975 to more than 10,000 in 1991, representing an average annual increase of 6 percent. Degrees in S&E fields grew at a similar rate so that their proportion of total degrees remained relatively constant over this period. About one-quarter of all university degrees are obtained in natural sciences and engineering; another 6 percent are in the social sciences. Participation rates in S&E degrees doubled in this period, but from a low base: less than 10 percent (men or women) of Austria's college-age cohort receive a university degree. While women have almost equal access to university education, less than 1 percent of college-age women obtain their degrees in natural sciences or engineering. Women are especially underrepresented in engineering. They obtained only 7 percent of the 1,000 engineering degrees awarded in Austrian universities in 1991. (See appendix table 20.)

Austria, with a 1993 GDP of $118 billion, invested approximately $1.9 billion or 1.6 percent of GDP in R&D. Industry finances about one-half of total R&D in Austria. Defense R&D comprises 1 percent of government expenditures for R&D. There are 24 RSEs per 10,000 persons in the labor force. R&D investments in Austria have risen 6 percent annually for 18 consecutive years, from 1975 to 1993. These R&D increases are being sustained even with a decrease in economic growth.

[38] Previous laws permitted unlimited sponsored study; new laws reduce years of state financial support and require full-time study.

[39] Finnish children start their first foreign language in third grade, their second foreign language in seventh grade, and their third foreign language in eighth grade.