First Grades Brimming, Secondary School Student Numbers Down ({{commentsTotal}})

Source: (Pärnu Postimees/Scanpix)

A record 15,000 children begin their primary school journey on Monday, 800 more than a year ago, but figures for further education show a reverse trend.

The number of pupils who have completed the mandatory nine-grade education and are continuing on the upper secondary level is declining, with 7,200 beginning 10th grade this year, 600 fewer than a year ago, the Ministry of Education said.

Universities are reporting similar trends, with slightly over 6,000 entering universities to study for their bachelor degrees, 400 fewer than in 2013. The number of new MA and PhD students is showing more stability, with 3,850 (4,000 last year) and 387 (392) new students respectively.

The figures can be explained by a spike in births from 2006 until 2011, when up to 16,000 children were born each year. The birth rate was around 12,000 in 1998 and slightly below 14,000 last year.