24.4.2024 valid documentation

Basic data of the statistics

Data description

The statistics describe the discontinuation of post-comprehensive school education leading to a qualification or degree.

To monitor discontinuation of education, students have been followed in a certain logical order, in which the completion of the examination has been prioritised before continuing studies. The starting point is the educational institution or training the student was attending on 20 September 20YY. As the review progresses, data about those who have changed the education field or sector, or those who have discontinued education leading to a qualification, are obtained in stages. If a person did not resume their education or did not complete a qualification during that period, they were considered to have dropped out. No separate data collection has been carried out for the purpose of compiling these statistics.

Statistics Finland revised the calculation of discontinuation of vocational education in 2022. The figures now include students in initial vocational education who complete the entire qualification. In previous years, the population also included students who were going to complete a part or parts of a qualification. Comparable figures were produced for four years.

 The statistics on discontinuation of education are based on individual-based data on students, qualifications and degrees that Statistics Finland has collected from educational institutions through organisers of education, directly from educational institutions, from the KOSKI data resource, the VIRTA higher education achievement register and the matriculation examination register. The data on students in general upper secondary education and on students and qualifications in vocational education (from the 2019 statistical year onwards), are based on the data reported by organisers of education/educational institutions to the KOSKI data resource of the Finnish National Agency for Education.

For example, the data are used in the planning of education and for research and evaluation purposes.

Statistical population

In post-comprehensive school education, the starting point for the statistics on discontinuation is the number of students attending education leading to a degree on 20 September 20YY. However, the number of students used in the calculation of the discontinuation rate differs from the total number of students, as some of the students had to be eliminated from the data for computational reasons.

Comparison of the total number of students and the number of students used in the statistics on discontinuation in 2021:
 
Education sector Total number of students  Number of students, of which discontinuation was calculated Difference
Upper secondary general education   109,538 100,929 -8,609
Vocational education and training (data for the calendar year) 341,696 149,215 -192,481
University of applied sciences education  156,059 136,239 -19,820
University education 159,545 138,879 -20,666

In upper secondary general school education, most of the difference is explained by the removal of students following the syllabus aimed at adults, in vocational education and training by the removal of students in labour market traing or students who are not enrolled at cross-sectional tilme 20.9.20YY, and in university of applied sciences education by the removal of students in education leading to a higher university of applied sciences degree, and in university education by the removal of students in education leading to a licentiate or a doctoral degree. Nor do the figures include the training of specialist physicians or other specialised education in universities or universities of applied sciences.

In addition, before the discontinuation rate is calculated, the following data are removed:
  • Persons with an incomplete personal identity code. A large proportion of them are foreigners.
  • People reported as students in September 20YY but had completed the education before September 20YY.
  • Educational institutions closed in 20YY/20YY+1 due to the loss of follow-up data for these students. In the case of upper secondary education, people who have started their education six or more years earlier; as a rule they should no longer be enrolled in the educational institution.
  • Labour market policy training
  • Specialised vocational education and training institutions (not all students complete the full degree)

Statistical unit

The statistical unit of the statistics on discontinuation of education is a person. In statistical reporting, discontinuation is expressed as a percentage, not as a number of persons. The reporting includes a base number, on the basis of which the discontinuation rate is calculated.

Unit of measure

The units of measurement used in the statistics on discontinuation of education are the discontinuation rate and the number of students.

Reference period

The reference period for the statistics on discontinuation of education is the statistical reference year from September to September of the following year. The statistics also contain data on the main type of activity for the last day of the following year.

Reference area

The reference area for the statistics on discontinuation of education is the whole of Finland. Data are produced at municipal and regional level.

Sector coverage

The statistics on discontinuation of education cover post-comprehensive education with the limitations mentioned in the quality report. 

In the statistics, the main focus of post-comprehensive education is the education sector:
  • upper secondary general education (aimed at young people)
  • vocational education or training (upper secondary education, initial vocational education)
  • university of applied sciences education (university of applied sciences degrees)
  • university education (lower and higher university degrees).
Data on discontinuation of education have also been produced from other perspectives, e.g. by educational institution, by education sector (2 levels) and by region.
 

Time coverage

The time coverage of the statistics on discontinuation of education is affected by changes in the education sector, and possible changes or exceptional situations in individual educational establishments. The time coverage by education sector is as follows:

Upper secondary general education
The statistics contain only upper secondary general school education aimed at young people. People who, according to the school, follow the syllabus aimed at adults have been removed from the population. In addition, until the academic year 2004/2005, persons attending educational institutions defined in the matriculation examination register as upper secondary schools for adults have been removed. Since the 2005/2006 academic year, the above persons have not been removed from the data, as these data are no longer available in the matriculation examination register. The discontinuation data for 2020/2021 do not include the Alajärvi lukio or F.E. Sillanpää lukio due to insufficient follow-up data.The calculation of the annual discontinuation statistics requires student data for two years. If these data are not comparable, the discontinuation rate is not calculated.

Vocational education and training
The discontinuation data for 2013/2014 do not include the Jyväskylä adult education institute or the Northern Savonia Folk High School due to insufficient follow-up data. The discontinuation data for 2014/2015 do not include the Rovala or the Northern Savonia Folk High School or Lybecker Institute of Crafts and Design because of insufficient follow-up data. The discontinuation data for 2021/2022 do not include the Emergency Services Academy Finland due to insufficient follow-up data.

University of applied sciences education
Since 2002, the figures for university of applied sciences education have also included new students registered as absent. This may have affected the discontinuation rate.

The discontinuation data for the 2011/2012 to 2015/2016 academic years do not include the Police University College, and the data for the 2015/2016 to 2017/2018 academic years do not include Åland University of Applied Sciences, as the discontinuation rate could not be calculated due to insufficient follow-up data.  The calculation of the annual discontinuation statistics requires student data for two years. If these data are not comparable, the discontinuation rate is not calculated.

University education
The National Defence University is included in the data from the 2010/2011 academic year onwards. The discontinuation data for 2002/2003 do not include the University of Art and Design, the data for 2004/2005 do not include Hanken School of Economics, the data for 2010/2011 do not include the University of Turku, the data for 2014/2015 do not include Tampere University of Technology or the National Defence University, and the data for 2015/2016 do not include the University of Oulu due to insufficient follow-up data. The calculation of the annual discontinuation statistics requires student data for two years. If these data are not comparable, the discontinuation rate is not calculated.

University education differs from other education in terms of discontinuation calculated in this way. Because the standard length of the education has not been defined in the same way as in other education, the student may be enrolled at the university for a very long time. Student registers can actually include people who have discontinued their studies. The comparability of data in different years may be affected by the periodic updating of university student registers, in connection with which persons who have not obtained any credits for years are removed from the registers.

Since 2002, the number of students attending universities describes the situation on 20 September (previously 31 December). The change in the time of the inquiry may have increased the discontinuation numbers if, despite registration times, some students have registered after the time of the inquiry.

The statistics are final.

Frequency of dissemination

The statistics on discontinuation of education are published once a year in March.

Concepts

Discontinuation of education

In the statistics on discontinuation of education discontinuation refers to discontinuation of post-comprehensive school education leading to a qualification.

Data concerning discontinuation of education are obtained by examining the situation of students having attended education in September XXXX in September XXXX+1. If a person has not continued education or obtained a qualification during this period, he/she is counted as having discontinued education.

Education

An organised activity, the aim of which is to produce competence based on teaching.

Comment:
Education can be divided into education and training leading to a qualification or degree and non-qualification studies.

Educational institution

An educational institution refers to an administrative unit with a principal or other head, which has teachers and other personnel in its service (role of employers), and which is liable to keep books and compile other documentation, in which students are registered, whose activities are regulated by a legal act or decree, which follows a national curriculum, and which is financed and controlled by a public authority. An educational institution does not refer to a school building or facility. A new educational institution is established, an educational institution is abolished or merged with another educational institution at the decision of the organiser of education (maintainer of the educational institution) or a public authority.

Statistics Finland has assigned an individualised educational institution ID to each educational institution. Educational institutions are classified according to a classification of types of educational institutions.

Educational system

The Finnish educational system is comprised of the following:

Pre-primary education is provided in Finland to 6-year-old children, usually at children's day care homes. Some 6-year-old children receive pre-primary education in comprehensive schools. Attendance of pre-primary education has been compulsory since 2015.
Comprehensive school education is general knowledge education provided for entire age cohorts. All children permanently resident in Finland must attend compulsory education. Compulsory education starts in the year of the child's seventh birthday.
Compulsory education finishes when the syllabus of comprehensives school education has been completed (9-year comprehensive school), or 10 years from the start of compulsory education. In exceptional cases compulsory education may start already at the age of six and last 11 years due to a disability or illness. A student who has received a leaving certificate from comprehensive school in the same year or in the year before it may continue to attend optional additional education (10th grade).

Post-comprehensive school education, or upper secondary general education and vocational education represent secondary level of education. Upper secondary general school education is education leading to a matriculation examination. Its scope is three years and it gives general eligibility to further education. Vocational education can be either educational institution-based or apprenticeship training. In apprenticeship training, most of the studying is comprised of learning through practical work tasks at a workplace. The qualifications are initial vocational qualifications attained in three years, which also give general eligibility to further polytechnic or university studies.

Further and specialist vocational qualifications represent further vocational education. They, as well as initial vocational qualifications can be attained in a skills examination that can be taken irrespective of the way of acquisition of professional skills, and in which skills can be proven on the basis of preparatory education for a skills examination or work experience.

Attainment of university of applied sciences degrees takes 3.5 to 4.5 years and higher university of applied sciences degrees requiring work practice 1-1.5 years. Attainment of lower university degrees takes three years while higher university degrees take two years longer. Attainers of higher level university degrees may continue their studies to licentiate and doctorate level degrees.

Further vocational qualification

A vocational qualification demonstrating professional competence tailored to the needs of working life, which is more advanced than an initial vocational qualification or targeted at more limited tasks.

Initial vocational qualification

A vocational qualification demonstrating broad-based basic vocational skills for different tasks in the field, as well as more specialised skills and professional competence required in working life in at least one sub-area related to working life.

Level of education

Category into which programmes leading to a qualification or degree are divided on the basis of the requirement level.

Comment:
Selection to education on a particular level of education often requires completion of a lower level of education.

The level of education is measured on the basis of both the overall duration or target time of the education and the requirement level.

Levels of education: early childhood education and care and pre-primary education (duration varies), primary education (6 years), lower secondary education (3 years, in total 9 years from the beginning of comprehensive education), upper secondary education (3 years, in total 12 years from the beginning of comprehensive education), post-secondary non-tertiary education (1-2 years, in total 13-14 years from the beginning of comprehensive education), lowest tertiary education (2-3 years, in total 14-15 years from the beginning of comprehensive education), bachelor's or equivalent level (3-4 years, in total 15-16 years from the beginning of comprehensive education), master's or equivalent level (5-6 years, in total 17-18 years from the beginning of comprehensive education) and second stage of tertiary education (2-4 years, in total 19-22 years from the beginning of comprehensive education).

The level of education indicator cannot be calculated directly on the basis of the duration presented in this concept.

Programme leading to a qualification or degree; formal education

Programme leading to a qualification or degree refers to education comprising the comprehensive education syllabus, the general upper secondary education syllabus, the matriculation examination, the international diplomas, the Gymnasieexamen diploma, or education and training leading to an initial vocational qualification, a further vocational qualification, a specialist vocational qualification, a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree, a licentiate, a doctoral degree, or a specialist degree in veterinary medicine.

Sector of education

Comprehensive education, general upper secondary education, vocational education, university of applied sciences education, university education.

Specialist vocational qualification

A vocational qualification demonstrating professional competence tailored to the needs of working life, with more advanced command of profession or cross-sectional skills than a further vocational qualification.

Student

A learner studying in other than pre-primary or comprehensive education.

Comment
Students include persons studying in general upper secondary school, vocational upper secondary education and training, tertiary education and liberal adult education.
Adults studying in comprehensive education are also referred to as students.
In Statistics Finland's statistics the concept refers to upper secondary and tertiary level students.
In Statistics Finland's statistics students are required to be registered at an educational institution.

University education

Tertiary education provided by universities.

Comment:
The objective of the education is a bachelor’s or master’s degree or a scientific postgraduate degree, which are licentiate's and doctoral degrees.
Education not leading to a qualification or degree can also be completed.

Vocational education and training

Education and training completed after the comprehensive education syllabus, aimed at producing vocational competence.

Comment:
Initial, further and specialist vocational qualifications can be obtained in vocational education and training.
In addition to completing a qualification, parts of a qualification can also be completed in vocational education and training.

Vocational qualification

A qualification intended to increase and maintain professional skills and demonstration of professional competence.

Comment:
Vocational qualifications are initial, further and specialist vocational qualifications.

Accuracy, reliability and timeliness

Overall accuracy

Possible deficiencies and errors in the data reported by the data providers have a negative impact on the quality of the statistics. If the information provided by educational institutions is incomplete, it generally affects the data on the discontinuation of post-comprehensive school education by increasing the discontinuation numbers.

The statistics describe persons who have a correct Finnish personal identity code. All incorrect personal identity codes are excluded from the review, which causes some under-coverage regarding the data of students with foreign background.

Timeliness

The data are published approximately 18 months after the reference period. 

Punctuality

There are no delays between the release date according to the release calendar and the actual date of release.
 

Comparability

Comparability - geographical

The statistics describe the situation at municipal and regional level. The data are comparable. The statistics use the National Classification of Education 2016, which is based on the UNESCO International Standard Classification of Education 2011 (ISCED 2011).

Comparability - over time

The compilation of statistics on discontinuation of post-comprehensive school education started in the 2000/2001 academic year. The comparability of different years is to some extent influenced by changes in the compilation of the statistics and by the improvement in the quality of the statistical data. Comprehensive school drop-out data are available 1999/2000 - 2018/2019 academic year.

The National Classification of Education was adopted under an agreement between Statistics Finland and the National Agency for Education starting with the statistics for 2016. The classification is based on UNESCO’s International Standard Classification of Education 2011 (ISCED 2011). The classification differs from the previously used classifications of education (Statistics Finland’s classification of education and the 1995 and 2002 classifications of the National Agency for Education).

Coherence - cross domain

The statistics are based on the same data sources and have been compiled in accordance with the same principles as Statistics Finland’s statistics by educational sector. These statistics can be used in parallel, provided that the specific characteristics of the statistics are taken into account.

Coherence - internal

There are no internal conflicts in the data of the statistics on discontinuation of education for a certain year. However, the comparability between years is affected by changes in the education system, classifications and statistics.

Source data and data collections

Source data

The statistics on discontinuation of post-comprehensive education are based on Statistics Finland’s total individual-based data.

 The data represent total data.

Data collection

The statistics are based on administrative data.

Frequency of data collection

The data are collected annually.

Methods

Data compilation

The statistics on discontinuation of education are based on administrative data, for the production of which no further statistical measures are need.

Data validation

The statistics are based on already published and validated student and qualification data. The statistics on discontinuation of education describe changes that have occurred and the internal logic of the data.

Principles and outlines

Contact organisation

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Contact organisation unit

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Legal acts and other agreements

The compilation of statistics is guided by the Statistics Act. The Statistics Act contains provisions on collection of data, processing of data and the obligation to provide data. Besides the Statistics Act, the Data Protection Act and the Act on the Openness of Government Activities are applied to processing of data when producing statistics. 

Statistics Finland compiles statistics in line with the EU’s regulations applicable to statistics, which steer the statistical agencies of all EU Member States.  

Further information: Statistical legislation

Confidentiality - policy

The data protection of data collected for statistical purposes is guaranteed in accordance with the requirements of the Statistics Act (280/2004), the Act on the Openness of Government Activities (621/1999), the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (EU) 2016/679 and the Data Protection Act (1050/2018). The data materials are protected at all stages of processing with the necessary physical and technical solutions. Statistics Finland has compiled detailed directions and instructions for confidential processing of the data. Employees have access only to the data essential for their duties. The premises where unit-level data are processed are not accessible to outsiders. Members of the personnel have signed a pledge of secrecy upon entering the service. Violation of data protection is punishable. 

Confidentiality - data treatment

The publication of the statistics complies with Statistics Finland’s official guidelines on the protection of tabulated personal data
based on the principles of statistical ethics and legislation. The key guideline in data protection activities is to avoid publishing statistical data in a form from which an individual person can be identified. Data on students and qualifications belonging to the organisers of education or educational institutions are otherwise in the public domain because the education or training they organise is funded or supervised by a public authority (section 12 of the Statistics Act).

The tables in the database are more standardised and more specific than the tables used in the statistical release. Background variables are also typically more detailed than those used in the tables of the statistical release.

To ensure data protection, the classification was already changed to less detailed at the table design stage; the database tables are not published using the most detailed possible classification variables for data protection reasons.

Information services based on the statistics on discontinuation of education follow the principles of the data protection guidelines for the publication of statistics on discontinuation of education. However, it must be taken into account when preparing information service assignments that assignments are case-specific and in particular, the impact of small numbers of observations and (possibly) more precise background variables on data protection. If the table contains sensitive variables such as nationality or main type of activity, rougher classifications must be used for other variables (e.g. regional data)  Alternatively, data on the nationality of foreigners can be provided at educational institution level with the accuracy of region and language classification Finnish-Swedish-other. If it is inconvenient to make the variables less detailed, a threshold rule can be applied.
 

Release policy

Statistics Finland publishes new statistical data at 8 am on weekdays in its web service. The release times of statistics are given in advance in the release calendar available in the web service. The data are public after they have been updated in the web service.

Further information: Publication principles for statistics at Statistics Finland

Data sharing

Data of the statistics are made available to the Ministry of Education and Culture and the Finnish National Agency for Education in accordance with the information service agreement. In addition, the statistical data are made available to the City of Helsinki information centre and to the Ministry Economic Affairs and Employment as agreed.

Accessibility and clarity

Statistical data are published as database tables in the StatFin database. The database is the primary publishing site of data, and new data are updated first there. When releasing statistical data, existing database tables can be updated with new data or completely new database tables can be published.   

In addition to statistical data published in the StatFin database, a release on the key data is usually published in the web service. If the release contains data concerning several reference periods (e.g. monthly and annual data), a review bringing together these data is published in the web service. Database tables updated at the time of publication are listed both in the release and in the review. In some cases, statistical data can also be published as mere database releases in the StatFin database. No release or review is published in connection with these database releases. 

Releases and database tables are published in three languages, in Finnish, Swedish and English. The language versions of releases may have more limited content than in Finnish.   

Information about changes in the publication schedules of releases and database tables and about corrections are given as change releases in the web service.

Data revision - policy

Revisions – i.e. improvements in the accuracy of statistical data already published – are a normal feature of statistical production and result in improved quality of statistics. The principle is that statistical data are based on the best available data and information concerning the statistical phenomenon. On the other hand, the revisions are communicated as transparently as possible in advance. Advance communication ensures that the users can prepare for the data revisions.

The reason why data in statistical releases become revised is often caused by the data becoming supplemented. Then the new, revised statistical figure is based on a wider information basis and describes the phenomenon more accurately than before.

Revisions of statistical data may also be caused by the calculation method used, such as annual benchmarking or updating of weight structures. Changes of base years and used classifications may also cause revisions to data.

Quality assurance

Quality management requires comprehensive guidance of activities. The quality management framework of the field of statistics is the European Statistics Code of Practice (CoP). The quality criteria of Official Statistics of Finland are compatible with the European Statistics Code of Practice. 

User access

Data are released to all users at the same time. Statistical data may only be handled at Statistics Finland and information on them may be given before release only by persons involved in the production of the statistics concerned or who need the data of the statistics concerned in their own work before the data are published.

Further information: Publication principles for statistics

Unless otherwise separately stated in connection with the product, data or service concerned, Statistics Finland is the producer of the data and the owner of the copyright. The terms of use for statistical data.

Revisions in statistics

Statistical experts

Heli Hiltunen
Senior Statistician
029 551 3314

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