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Education expenditure (UK): Social Indicators page

Published Monday, November 27, 2017

Trends in spending since the late 1970s and international comparisons. Updated to include spending figures published in Public Expenditure Statistical Analysis 2016 and Education at a Glance 2015

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UK education expenditure increased consistently from the late 1990s to reach 5.6% in 2010-11; the highest rate since the mid 1970s. 

Substantial increases in education spending as a proportion of GDP occurred in the early 1990s and the decade from 2201-2011.

Spending has increased in real terms in most years since 1979-80.  The only periods where it fell for two or more consecutive years were in the mid-1980s, mid-1990s and since 2010-11.

Education and training expenditure was 5.8% of GDP in 2009-10. Real terms cuts to 2015-16 took it below 4.5% in 2016-17.

The Treasury has excluded the impairment cost of student loans from 2011-12. If this were added back in, the 2011-12 total would still be below the 2010-11 level.


The OECD ranked the UK highest out of 32 states on total education expenditure as a percentage of GDP in 2014.

At 6.7% of GDP (OECD measure), total public and private UK education spending was well above the OECD average of 5.2%.

Commons Briefing papers SN02631

Author: Lydia Jackson

Topics: Further education, Higher education, Schools

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