‘Education at a Glance’ report published

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) today published their major survey on education and skills – The Education at a Glance report – which highlights the importance of long term investment in higher education.

Commenting on the release of the report, Director General of the Russell Group Dr Wendy Piatt said: “The UK’s leading universities provide some of the best tertiary level education in the world – we can rightly be proud. But this report reveals that without more investment, the UK risks jeopardising the competitive advantage that has made our universities the envy of the world.

“While our universities are experiencing real-term cuts in public funding, other nations are pumping billions more into their universities to gain a competitive edge. The UK’s total investment in higher education amounts to just 1.4% of GDP: half that of the USA, and below the OECD average. We must aim to bring our investment in higher education closer to that of our major competitors. UK public investment in higher education is only 0.7% of GDP, below the OECD and EU 21 averages, lower than Brazil, Russia or any Western European country for which data was available, and comparable to Chile and the Slovak Republic.

“Expenditure per student in higher education fell by 3% between 2005 and 2010 in the UK after a period of increase. This recent decrease puts the UK 25th out of 31 countries in the OECD study and well below the average 8% growth in spending per student over this period.

“These OECD figures also confirm once again the financial pay-off for most graduates from taking a degree in this country. Employees with a degree earn, on average, 57% more than employees who left education at secondary school level. Research published elsewhere has also shown that Russell Group graduates receive an average 10% top-up over those with other degrees. In an uncertain world, a good degree is a sound investment.

“As the UK’s economic competitiveness becomes increasingly dependent upon high-tech industries and skilled graduates, our leading research-intensive universities will be crucial to future growth and prosperity. Of course, there is a cost involved in ensuring universities are adequately resourced, but the costs of not doing so are much greater.”

A copy of the full report is available at: http://www.oecd.org/edu/eag.htm

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