A new study by the European Commission has shown a significant increase in the number of Greek students going to university and technical college, three times the European Union average. According to the study by the EC’s executive agency for education, the Eurydice Network, the number of 18-year-olds entering higher education in Greece increased by 25 percent between 1998 and 2006. The increase is exactly three times the 25 percent average increase in the 27-member EU. In some of the newer member states, higher rates of increase were recorded – 232 percent in Romania, a 206 percent increase in Lithuania, 187 percent in Latvia and 180 percent in Romania – but these rises have been linked to the significant social and economic changes these countries underwent upon joining the bloc. Experts believe the increase in college entries in Greece is partly due to the creation of many new university faculties. Another trend highlighted by the report is the penchant by a significant proportion of Greek teenagers to pursue higher education abroad, some 5.5 percent to be precise. The figure is nearly double the EU average of 2.6 percent and the highest in Western Europe. But the wave of Greek youngsters traveling abroad to study has ebbed slightly over the past few years. In 2002, 8.6 percent of Greek high school graduates who chose to continue their studies did so abroad. In 2003, this figure dropped to 7.9 percent and, by 2006, it had reached 5.5 percent. It is believed that the decision by many Greek students to stay at home in recent years has been partly influenced by the creation of private colleges in Greece that operate as franchises of foreign universities.