The world's education systems vary widely in terms of structure and curricular content. Consequently, it can be difficult to compare national education systems with those of other countries or to benchmark progress towards national and international goals. 

The International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED 2011) provides a comprehensive framework for organising education programmes and qualification by applying uniform and internationally agreed definitions to facilitate comparisons of education systems across countries. ISCED is a widely-used a global reference classification for education systems that is maintained and periodically revised by the UIS in consultation with Member States and other international and regional organizations. ISCED 2011 is the second major revision of this classification (initially developed in the 1970s and revised in 1997). It was adopted by the UNESCO General Conference in November 2011.

ISCED is essential for collecting and analysing cross-nationally comparable education statistics. The accompanying ISCED Fields of Education and Training 2013 (ISCED-F) classifies education programmes and related qualifications by fields of study according to the broad domain, branch or area of content covered. .

The ISCED 2011 Operational Manual provides further guidelines for classifying national education programmes and related qualifications according to ISCED 2011.  

The UIS works closely with Member States and its data collection partners (such as OECD and Eurostat) to map education systems and collect data according to the ISCED classification. National ISCED mappings are published on our page devoted to ISCED mappings.