The number of students attending Romania’s universities fell by nearly half from 2009 to 2013, Balkan Insight writes, citing a study by the country’s Education Ministry.
Official data showed that only 465,000 students were enrolled in 2013, compared to 891,000 years earlier.
During the same period, the percentage of people aged 30 to 34 with degrees fell to below 22 percent, compared with a European average of almost 36 percent, according to the study.
A shrinking population due to falling birth rates and emigration is one likely reason for the declining enrollment numbers. The 2011 census revealed that Romania’s population had dropped to 19 million people, from 21.7 million in 2001 and 22.8 million in 1992.
Enrollment is also falling in primary and secondary education. Speaking to the regional Ziarul de Iasi newspaper, a spokesman for the Iasi County Statistical Office in northeastern Romania said the drop in student numbers has outpaced the decline in the birth rate, possibly because of rising dropout rates, a general lack of interest in education, or the absence of parents who have gone abroad for work.
The numbers are sharply up, however, at some professional schools, which students see as a more certain route to a job, Stirileprotv.ro reports. In northwestern Satu Mare County, local school officials have increased the number of places in professional and technical high schools. While 900 middle school graduates opted for those places in 2014, only 400 went to theoretical high schools, the traditional path to university.
This article was originally published by Transitions Online.