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Student Budgets Around the World

Key statistics

  • China have increased year-on-year spending the most per student, increasing 21% per year on average
  • The UK have only increased spending 4% per year on average, behind Switzerland, Korea, Germany and Austria who already spend more per student
  • The US are 37th on a list of 43, increasing spending per student by only 2% per year
  • Switzerland (£16,779/$21,293), Luxembourg (£16,740/$21,244) and Austria (£11,896/$15,097) make up the top 3 countries in the world spending the most per student

In the western world, the level of government spending on education has been a sore topic. Unions and teachers are often campaigning for improved pay with often little change. In fact, there are only 5 countries globally where teachers make above the local average ‘cost of living’, or GDP (PPP), with the US being 19th in the list overall (salaries are 14% lower than the cost of living nationally) and the UK not making the top 20 at all (18% lower).

We’ve analysed how government spending on mandatory education has fluctuated through the years from country-to-country. Here, we can see which countries are investing the most, not just in teachers, but in every aspect of education that goes into the investment they make in their students’ futures.

Using figures from the OECD and other international governmental sources between 2010 and 2018, we can see that China leads the world in how much they’ve increased per student budget spending (21% average year-on-year). However, China is playing catch-up as they sit 42nd of a list of 43 countries on the total amount they spend per head, which is currently £1,902 ($2,414). This is considerably less than the UK at £9,138 ($11,597) per student and the US at £10,647 ($13,511).

Use the boxes and graph below to see how countries compare and at what rates they are investing in their education system.

1 China 21% $682 $935 $1,175 $1,312 $1,443 $1,588 $1,646 $2,414 -
2 Russia 17% $1,952 $2,320 $4,470 $5,224 $5,391 $5,001 $4,366 $4,276 $5,382
3 Turkey 12% $2,165 $1,832 $3,048 $3,484 $3,834 $4,282 $4,576 $5,097 $4,594
4 Brazil 11% $2,257 $2,667 $2,474 $2,460 $2,422 $3,775 $3,866 $4,152 -
5 Colombia 11% $1,955 - $2,086 $2,307 $2,633 $2,754 $2,909 $3,014 $3,855
6 Hungary 9% - - - $4,452 $4,642 $5,552 $5,985 $7,033 $6,780
7 Switzerland 9% $13,242 $14,399 $19,800 $16,862 $15,099 $21,100 $20,783 $21,293 -
8 Chile 7% $3,204 $3,279 $3,702 $4,534 $4,376 $4,167 $4,259 $4,906 $5,213
9 Slovak Republic 6% $4,764 $5,281 $5,126 $5,382 $5,929 $6,369 $6,765 $6,432 $6,711
10 Korea 6% $8,060 $8,199 $8,355 $8,592 $10,316 $12,202 $12,370 $11,810 $12,704
11 Israel 6% $5,198 $5,686 $6,350 $7,078 $7,551 $7,556 - $8,427 $9,064
12 Portugal 6% $6,821 - - $8,232 $9,514 $9,411 $8,577 $9,107 $9,836
13 Poland 6% $4,937 $5,584 $5,805 $6,362 $6,608 $6,824 $6,788 $7,028 $7,597
14 Czech Republic 5% $5,735 $5,767 $6,185 $6,482 $6,639 $6,887 $7,122 $7,108 $8,052
15 Iran 5% $913 $768 $820 $1,110 $833 $817 $1,016 $1,119 -
16 Germany 5% $8,448 $9,217 $9,632 $9,839 $10,318 $10,799 $10,902 $11,552 $12,195
17 Austria 4% - - - $12,481 $13,393 $13,454 $13,939 $14,913 $15,097
18 Taiwan 4% $5,149 $5,491 $5,653 $5,694 $5,764 $5,634 $6,066 $6,726 -
19 United Kingdom 4% $8,919 $9,430 $9,629 $9,967 $11,487 $11,875 $11,109 $11,221 $11,597
20 Denmark 4% $11,327 $11,758 $10,535 $11,477 $11,808 $12,827 - - $12,163
21 Australia 4% $9,720 $10,315 $10,033 $9,560 $10,318 $10,319 $10,743 $10,516 $11,270
22 New Zealand 4% - - - $8,360 $8,770 $9,064 $9,192 $9,679 $9,937
23 Latvia 4% $5,066 $4,756 $4,954 $5,098 $5,968 $6,631 $6,884 $6,761 $6,766
24 Lithuania 4% - $4,541 $4,742 $4,803 $5,212 $5,383 $5,314 $5,879 $6,094
25 France 3% $8,892 $9,124 $9,200 $9,312 $9,778 $9,918 $9,963 $10,377 $10,867
26 Norway 3% $12,648 $12,942 $13,102 $13,508 $14,396 $14,194 $14,069 $14,042 $14,848
27 Netherlands 3% $9,775 $9,897 $10,062 $10,338 $10,995 $10,674 $11,026 $11,326 $11,931
28 Sweden 3% $9,750 $10,104 $10,519 $10,860 $11,061 $11,007 $11,174 $11,785 $12,339
29 Belgium 3% $9,903 $10,465 $10,786 $11,280 $11,719 $11,903 $11,952 $12,535 $13,054
30 Canada 3% $11,554 $9,948 $10,046 $10,151 $10,635 $10,747 $10,459 $11,020 $11,380
31 Iceland 3% $9,764 $8,804 $9,216 $9,241 $9,757 $10,599 $11,231 $11,861 $13,254
32 Argentina 2% $3,257 $3,342 $3,733 $3,628 $4,083 $2,206 $2,685 $2,918 -
33 Italy 2% $8,493 $8,169 $7,993 $8,609 $8,840 $8,727 $9,047 $8,901 $10,036
34 Mexico 2% $2,418 $2,544 $2,765 $2,826 $2,925 $3,033 $3,075 $3,149 $2,803
35 Finland 2% $8,448 $8,833 $9,272 $9,448 $9,659 $9,769 $10,044 $10,252 $10,133
36 Estonia 2% $6,209 $6,218 $6,203 $6,534 $6,897 $6,436 $6,685 $6,986 $7,462
37 United States 2% $11,811 $11,809 $11,718 $11,731 $11,868 $12,163 $12,595 $13,022 $13,511
38 Luxembourg 1% - - - $19,943 $18,758 $20,939 $20,711 $20,224 $21,244
39 Slovenia 1% $8,532 $8,674 $8,840 $8,838 $8,950 $8,875 $8,447 $8,724 $9,223
40 Spain 1% $8,637 $8,369 $8,272 $7,963 $7,753 $7,814 $8,230 $8,765 $9,166
41 Japan 1% $9,155 $8,882 $9,170 $9,564 $9,983 $10,126 $10,102 $9,868 $9,963
42 Greece 1% - - - $6,006 $6,277 $6,192 $6,205 - -
43 Ireland -1% - $9,749 $9,848 $10,071 $9,434 $9,170 $8,510 $8,887 $9,218
Government spend on each student over time

Sources and methodology

The data was collected primarily from the OECD and missing data was sourced using official national statistical bodies (see below). This data was then compiled into a year-on-year view and averages were calculated using only known values to give a true state of change.

Sources include:

OECD Education spendings, Statistics Norway, Statista, Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union (2019), Statistical Yearbook Of The Republic Of China, Poland Education and Training Monitoring of the European Union, The Information Source of Turkey, National Institute for the Evaluation of Education for Spain, Australian Council for Educational Research, Australian Bureau of Statistics, Higher School of Economics Russia, Government of the Netherlands (Rijksoverheid), Federal Office of Statistics Germany, Government Of India (Ministry Of Human Resource Development, Department Of School Education & Literacy, Statistics Division), Ministry of Education and Vocational Training (Government of Spain), Local Education Expense Survey (Japan, Ministry of Education), Fraser Institute: Education Spending in Public Schools in Canada, The National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies for France, Official Statistics for Local Authorities and school expenditure (UK Gov), German Federal Office of Statistics, US National Center for Educational Statistics,The World Bank, and the European Commission.

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