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United Kingdom
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Diagram of the education system

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  • Diagram of education system in country language


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  • Education system in United Kingdom

    United Kingdom
    Overview of the education system (EAG 2019)
  • In the United Kingdom, the average employment rate among tertiary-educated adults is 5 percentage points higher than among those with only an upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary qualification.
  • The United Kingdom enrols the second largest number of international students in the OECD area after the United States. As a destination country, the United Kingdom accounts for 10% of the total international education market share in OECD and partner countries.
  • Tuitions fees in England are higher than in all OECD countries and economies except the United States.
  • Early childhood education and care (ECEC) is nearly universal in the United Kingdom for 3- and 4-year-olds.
  • Among OECD countries, the United Kingdom spends the fourth highest proportion of its gross domestic product (GDP) on primary to tertiary educational institutions.
  • At pre-primary, primary and secondary levels, the average age of the teaching workforce in the United Kingdom has fallen since 2005 and it is now one of the youngest of all OECD countries.
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    The following list displays indicators for which your selected country shows the highest and lowest values among countries. The list can be sorted by level of education or by age group. All rankings are calculated including available data from OECD and partner countries. Find out more about the methodology here.

    Show indicators for which your country ranks among the top or bottom: Sort by:

    Educational outcomes

    The proportion of 25-64 year-olds who attained a doctoral or equivalent tertiary education degree is one of the highest among countries with available data. (1.4 %, rank 6/36 , 2018) Download Indicator

    The percentage of first-time graduates in vocational programmes at upper secondary level is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (62.6 %, rank 5/32 , 2017) Download Indicator

    The average age of upper secondary graduates from general programmes in United Kingdom is one of the lowest among OECD and partner countries with available data (15.7 Years, rank 38/38 , 2017) Download Indicator

    Attainment by field of education

    The percentage of 25-64 year-olds with tertiary education who studied in the field of educaton is one of the lowest among OECD countries and partner economies with available data. (5 %, rank 30/32 , 2018) Download Indicator

    The percentage of 25-64 year-olds with tertiary education who studied in the field of humanities (except languages), social sciences, journalism and information is one of the lowest among OECD countries and partner economies with available data. (3.6 %, rank 29/30 , 2018) Download Indicator

    The percentage of 25-64 year-olds with tertiary education who studied in the field of arts and humanities, social sciences, journalism and information is one of the lowest among OECD countries and partner economies with available data. (12.9 %, rank 28/32 , 2018) Download Indicator

    The percentage of 25-64 year-olds with tertiary education who studied in the field of natural sciences, mathematics and statistics is one of the lowest among OECD countries and partner economies with available data. (2.7 %, rank 29/32 , 2018) Download Indicator

    The percentage of 25-64 year-olds with tertiary education who studied in the field of engineering, manufacturing and construction is one of the highest among OECD countries and partner economies with available data. (19.3 %, rank 10/32 , 2018) Download Indicator

    Participation in education

    Participation rate of 25-64 year-olds in job-related non-formal education sponsored by the employer is high in United Kingdom, compared to other countries with available data. (79.2 %, rank 5/34 , 2016) Download Indicator

    Participation rate of 25-64 year-olds in job-related non-formal education not sponsored by the employer is low in United Kingdom, compared to other countries with available data. (4.4 %, rank 32/34 , 2016) Download Indicator

    The share of 25-64 year-old women participating in job-related non-formal education not sponsored by the employer is small. (5.1 %, rank 32/34 , 2016) Download Indicator

    In United Kingdom, a low proportion of 25-64 year-old men participate in job-related non-formal education not sponsored by the employer. (3.6 %, rank 32/34 , 2016) Download Indicator

    The percentage of three-year-olds in early childhood education in United Kingdom is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (100 %, rank 1/40 , 2017) Download Indicator

    In United Kingdom, the percentage of tertiary students enrolled in private institutions is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (100 %, rank 1/44 , 2017) Download Indicator

    In United Kingdom, the share of part-time students in bachelor's programmes is relatively small. (10.5 %, rank 23/30 , 2017) Download Indicator

    In United Kingdom, the share of part-time students in master's programmes is relatively large. (45.6 %, rank 5/30 , 2017) Download Indicator

    Graduation expectancy

    The percentage of young people expected to graduate from vocational programmes in upper secondary education during their lifetimes in United Kingdom is comparatively high (53.8 %, rank 6/34 , 2017) Download Indicator

    In United Kingdom, the percentage of today's young people expected to graduate from an upper secondary general programme is one of the lowest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (32.9 %, rank 29/34 , 2017) Download Indicator

    The percentage of today's young people expected to graduate from a doctoral or equivalent programme in United Kingdom ranks as one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (3.1 %, rank 3/39 , 2017) Download Indicator

    United Kingdom has one of the highest percentages of young people expected to obtain a bachelor's or an equivalent degree during their lifetime. (47.7 %, rank 8/37 , 2017) Download Indicator

    The percentage of today's young people expected to obtain a master's or an equivalent degree during their lifetime is one of the highest among OECD countries and partner economies with available data. (22.5 %, rank 6/38 , 2017) Download Indicator

    Excluding mobile students, United Kingdom has one of the lowest percentages of young people expected to obtain a master's or an equivalent degree before the age of 30. (8.3 %, rank 22/27 , 2017) Download Indicator

    Excluding mobile students, United Kingdom has one of the highest percentages of young people expected to complete a doctorate or an equivalent education during their lifetime. (1.7 %, rank 5/29 , 2017) Download Indicator

    Graduation by gender

    In United Kingdom, the share of female doctoral graduates in the field of engineering, manufacturing and construction is relatively low. (26.8 %, rank 33/42 , 2017) Download Indicator

    Graduation by field of education

    The percentage of tertiary graduates in the field of arts and humanities is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (15.2 %, rank 5/44 , 2017) Download Indicator

    The percentage of tertiary graduates in the field of natural sciences, mathematics and statistics is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (13.6 %, rank 2/44 , 2017) Download Indicator

    The percentage of tertiary graduates in the field of services is one of the lowest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (0.1 %, rank 43/44 , 2017) Download Indicator

    The share of doctoral graduates in the field of arts and humaties in United Kingdom is relatively large. (15.9 %, rank 6/45 , 2017) Download Indicator

    The share of doctoral graduates in the field of Natural sciences, mathematics and statistics in United Kingdom is relatively large. (29.1 %, rank 8/45 , 2017) Download Indicator

    In United Kingdom, the proportion of upper secondary vocational graduates in the field of business, aministration and law is one of the lowest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (12 %, rank 29/33 , 2017) Download Indicator

    In United Kingdom, the proportion of upper secondary vocational graduates in the field of engineering, manufacturing and construction is one of the lowest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (8.1 %, rank 33/33 , 2017) Download Indicator

    Fields of education

    In United Kingdom, the percentage of new entrants to tertiary education in the field of engineering, manufacturing and construction is relatively low. (8.9 %, rank 35/35 , 2017) Download Indicator

    The percentage of national tertiary students enrolled in the field of business, administration and law in United Kingdom is relatively low. (16.8 %, rank 33/36 , 2017) Download Indicator

    The percentage of national tertiary students enrolled in the field of engineering, manufacturing and construction in United Kingdom is relatively low. (7.9 %, rank 35/37 , 2017) Download Indicator

    The percentage of national tertiary students enrolled in the field of services in United Kingdom is relatively low. (0.1 %, rank 36/37 , 2017) Download Indicator

    Student mobility

    United Kingdom has one of the largest proportion of international or foreign students enrolled in tertiary education among OECD and partner countries with available data. (17.9 %, rank 4/46 , 2017) Download Indicator

    United Kingdom is one of the most attractive destinations to foreign students compared to other OECD and partner countries with available data. (8.2 %, rank 2/46 , 2017) Download Indicator

    In United Kingdom, the number of international or foreign students per national student abroad is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (12 Students, rank 2/46 , 2017) Download Indicator

    In United Kingdom, international students from North America are most represented among all international students, compared to other OECD and partner countries with available data. (5.2 %, rank 6/45 , 2017) Download Indicator

    In United Kingdom, international students from Oceania are most represented among all international students, compared to other OECD and partner countries with available data. (0.6 %, rank 8/45 , 2017) Download Indicator

    Student mobility by field of education

    The percentage of international tertiary students enrolled in the field of business, administration and law in United Kingdom is relatively high. (33.1 %, rank 5/36 , 2017) Download Indicator

    The percentage of international tertairy students enrolled in the field of natural sciences, mathematics and statistics in United Kingdom is relatively high. (11.6 %, rank 8/37 , 2017) Download Indicator

    The percentage of international tertiary students enrolled in the field of services in United Kingdom is relatively low. (0 %, rank 36/37 , 2017) Download Indicator

    In United Kingdom, the share of international and foreign students among all students in the field of services is one of the smallest among OECD and partner countries with avaialble data. (0 %, rank 36/36 , 2017) Download Indicator

    Expenditure per student

    Annual expenditure per tertiary student is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (23771 USD Equivalent, rank 4/35 , 2016) Download Indicator

    Annual expenditure per student from primary to tertiary level is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (13038 USD Equivalent, rank 8/35 , 2016) Download Indicator

    Annual expenditure per pupil at the pre-primary level is one of the lowest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (5932 USD Equivalent, rank 26/31 , 2016) Download Indicator

    Annual expenditure per primary student is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (11188 USD Equivalent, rank 7/35 , 2016) Download Indicator

    Annual expenditure per tertiary student is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (18405 USD Equivalent, rank 3/32 , 2016) Download Indicator

    Expenditure in education and national wealth

    In United Kingdom, expenditure on primary through tertiary educational institutions as a percentage of GDP is one of the highest among OECD countries and partner economies. (6.2 %, rank 4/35 , 2016) Download Indicator

    In United Kingdom, expenditure on tertiary educational institutions as a percentage of GDP is comparatively high. (1.7 %, rank 8/35 , 2016) Download Indicator

    In United Kingdom, public expenditure on educational institutions as a percentage of GDP on tertiary education from final source of funds is relatively low. (0.5 %, rank 37/40 , 2016) Download Indicator

    In United Kingdom, private expenditure on educational institutions as a percentage of GDP on primary to tertiary education from final source of funds is relatively high. (1.9 %, rank 2/35 , 2016) Download Indicator

    Public and private expenditure in education

    The share of private expenditure on pre-primary education is one of the largest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (50.1 %, rank 2/31 , 2016) Download Indicator

    The share of private expenditure on all levels below tertiary education is one of the largest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (15.3 %, rank 7/34 , 2016) Download Indicator

    The share of private expenditure on tertiary education is one of the largest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (67.7 %, rank 2/35 , 2016) Download Indicator

    United Kingdom has one of the largest shares of private expenditure on primary through tertiary educational institutions among OECD countries and partner economies with available data. (30.2 %, rank 5/35 , 2016) Download Indicator

    The share of public expenditure on educational institutions, for tertiary education is comparatively small. (28.3 %, rank 35/35 , 2016) Download Indicator

    In United Kingdom, the share of public expenditure on educational institutions, for primary to tertiary education is comparatively small. (68.7 %, rank 32/35 , 2016) Download Indicator

    Expenditure on all children aged 3 to 5 enrolled in early childhood and primary education is one of the highest in United Kingdom compared to OECD and partner countries with available data. (52 USD Equivalent, rank 1/30 , 2016) Download Indicator

    Ratio of student to teaching staff

    The number of students per teacher in secondary schools is one of the largest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (16.4 Ratio, rank 8/38 , 2016) Download Indicator

    In United Kingdom, the ratio of children to contact staff in pre-primary education is one of the lowest compared to other OECD and partner countries with available data. (3.9 Ratio, rank 21/21 , 2017) Download Indicator

    Who the teachers are

    The percentage of primary to upper secondary teachers younger than 30 is especially high. (24.9 %, rank 1/34 , 2017) Download Indicator

    The percentage of primary teachers older than 50 is especially low. (14.9 %, rank 34/35 , 2017) Download Indicator

    The percentage of lower secondary teachers older than 50 is especially low. (17.2 %, rank 33/34 , 2017) Download Indicator

    The percentage of upper secondary teachers older than 50 is especially low. (26.8 %, rank 29/34 , 2017) Download Indicator

    The percentage of primary to upper secondary teachers older than 50 is especially low. (19.3 %, rank 33/34 , 2017) Download Indicator

    Employment and educational attainment

    The employment rate among 25-64 year-olds with a general upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary education is relatively high compared to other OECD and partner countries. (80 %, rank 6/38 , 2018) Download Indicator

    Unemployment and educational attainment

    The unemployment rate among 25-64 year-olds with a short-cycle tertiary education degree is one the lowest of all OECD countries and partner economies for which data are available. (2.2 %, rank 27/31 , 2018) Download Indicator

    The unemployment rate among 25-64 year-olds with a general upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary education is low compared to other OECD and partner countries. (2.7 %, rank 37/38 , 2018) Download Indicator

    Among the unemployed population aged between 25 and 64 with tertiary education, the share of those who have been unemployed for less than 3 months is one of the largest in United Kingdom, compared to other OECD countries. (46 %, rank 7/31 , 2018) Download Indicator

    The inactivity rate of 25-34 years-old adults with tertiary education is low in United Kingdom. (8 %, rank 34/43 , 2018) Download Indicator

    Earnings and educational attainment

    The proportion of male full-time earners among all earners aged 35 to 44 without upper secondary education is comparatively high. (71.6 %, rank 8/29 , 2016) Download Indicator

    Earnings of women as a percentage of men's earnings (among 25-64 year-olds with upper secondary education and income from employment) are one of the lowest among countries with available data. (71.7 %, rank 31/37 , 2016) Download Indicator

    Earnings by field of education

    Earnings of tertiary-educated adults who studied in the field of education are low, compared to earnings of all tertiary-educated adults in United Kingdom. (75.3 %, rank 11/15 , 2017) Download Indicator

    Earnings of tertiary-educated adults who studied in the field of arts and humanities, social sciences, journalism and information are low, compared to earnings of all tertiary-educated adults in United Kingdom. (69.4 %, rank 12/14 , 2017) Download Indicator

    Earnings of tertiary-educated adults who studied in the field of business, administration and law are high, compared to earnings of all tertiary-educated adults in United Kingdom. (107.6 %, rank 9/15 , 2017) Download Indicator

    Earnings of tertiary-educated adults who studied in the field of natural sciences, mathematics and statistics are high, compared to earnings of all tertiary-educated adults in United Kingdom. (146 %, rank 1/14 , 2017) Download Indicator

    Earnings of tertiary-educated adults who studied in the field of information and communication technologies (ICT) are low, compared to earnings of all tertiary-educated adults in United Kingdom. (105.1 %, rank 13/15 , 2017) Download Indicator

    Earnings of tertiary-educated adults who studied in the field of engineering, manufacturing and construction are high, compared to earnings of all tertiary-educated adults in United Kingdom. (129.4 %, rank 1/15 , 2017) Download Indicator

    Earnings of tertiary-educated adults who studied in the field of health and welfare are low, compared to earnings of all tertiary-educated adults in United Kingdom. (80.7 %, rank 15/15 , 2017) Download Indicator

    Neither in education nor employed

    The percentage of 15-19 years-old men neither employed nor in education or training is one of the highest among OECD countries and partner economies with available data. (9.6 %, rank 10/39 , 2018) Download Indicator

    Social outcomes

    Among 25-64 years-old adults with below upper secondary education, a low proportion have someone to ask for moral, material or financial help. (87.5 %, rank 22/29 , 2015) Download Indicator

    Among 25-64 years-old adults with tertiary education, a low proportion have someone to ask for moral, material or financial help. (94.2 %, rank 26/29 , 2015) Download Indicator

    Compared to other countries with available data, the percentage of adults (25-64 years old) with below upper secondary education who actively participate in social media on a daily basis is high in United Kingdom. (33.9 %, rank 9/29 , 2015) Download Indicator

    Compared to other countries with available data, the percentage of adults (25-64 years old) with tertiary education who actively participate in social media on a daily basis is high in United Kingdom. (44.4 %, rank 9/29 , 2015) Download Indicator

    Among employed adults (25-64 years-old) with below upper secondary education, a small share have difficulties to fulfill their family responsabilities because of their jobs, compared to other countries with available data. (42.9 %, rank 11/18 , 2015) Download Indicator

    Among employed adults (25-64 years-old) with tertiary education, a large share have difficulties to fulfill their family responsabilities because of their jobs, compared to other countries with available data. (58.3 %, rank 9/32 , 2015) Download Indicator

    The proportion of employed adults (25-64 years-old) with below upper secondary education who have concentration difficulties at work because of family responsabilities is high in United Kingdom. (33.5 %, rank 5/18 , 2015) Download Indicator


    The data table will display up to six selected countries.
    General findings
    • In 2018, 44% of 25-34 year-olds held a tertiary degree, compared to 35% in 2008, on average across OECD countries.
    • Tertiary-educated adults also reap higher earnings, although this varies by field of study. Their advantage increases with age too: 25-34 year-olds with tertiary education earn 38% more than their peers with upper secondary education while 45-54 year-olds earn 70% more.
    • While engineering, manufacturing and construction, and information and communication technologies are two fields most commonly associated with the best labour market outcomes, only 14% of graduates earned a degree in the former and 4% earned a degree in the latter in 2017.
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    • Although graduation from upper secondary education increased by 6 percentage points between 2005 and 2017, 15% of 25-34 year-olds did not attain upper secondary education in 2018, on average across OECD countries.
    • In some countries, vocational programmes are prominent at the upper secondary level. On average across OECD countries, 40% of first-time upper secondary graduates earned a vocational qualification in 2017; in Austria, the Czech Republic, the Slovak Republic and Slovenia, more than 66% of this population did.
    • At the lower secondary level, the average class shrank by 6% while teachers' statutory salaries increased by 8% between 2005 and 2017, on average across OECD countries.
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    • In 2017, more than one in three children under the age of three were enrolled in early childhood education and care services, on average across OECD countries - an increase of 7 percentage points compared to 2010.
    • Between the age of 3 to 5, on average across OECD countries, 87% of children are enrolled in pre-primary and primary education.
    • Annual expenditure per child in early childhood development programmes was greater than in pre-primary education in 2016 on average across OECD countries. However, as a share of GDP, expenditure on early childhood development is lower.
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    • In 2016, expenditure per tertiary student amounted to USD 15 556, approximately one-third of which was devoted to research and development.
    • Private sources financed more than 30% of the expenditure, on average, at the tertiary level compared to 10% at primary, secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary level.
    • OECD countries spent an average of 3.5% of GDP on primary, secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary institutions in 2016, and public expenditure at this level increased by 18% since 2005.
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    • About 10% of primary and secondary teachers are under the age of 30, on average across OECD countries.
    • While the teaching profession is dominated by women, the share of female teachers decreases with the level of education taught: almost all teachers at the pre-primary level are women, however they make up less than half of the teaching force at tertiary level.
    • Salaries tend to increase with the level of education taught, but teachers' earnings remain between 78% and 93% of the earnings of other tertiary-educated adults.
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    Key
    Country Reviews for United Kingdom

    Note: These values should be interpreted with care since they are influenced by countries' specific contexts and trade-offs. In education, there is often no simple most- or least-efficient model. For instance, the share of private expenditure in education must be read against other measures designed to mitigate inequities, such as loans and grants; longer learning time is an opportunity to convey more and better content to students, but may hinder investments in other important areas. If you want further information on the nature of different variables, please take the time to read the analysis and contextual information, available at the website for each publication.
    All rankings for individual variables are compiled on the basis of OECD and G20 countries for which data are available. The OECD average includes only OECD countries which are listed here: http://www.oecd.org/about/membersandpartners/

    *TALIS averages are based on all countries participating in the TALIS survey, including partner countries and economies. This explains the difference between the OECD average and the TALIS average. Data from the TALIS survey and Education at a Glance (EAG) may differ. See Annex E of the TALIS technical report and Annex 3 of EAG 2019 for more details about the data collections.

    B-S-J-Z (China) refers to the four PISA-participating provinces/municipalities of the People's Republic of China: Beijing, Shanghai, Jiangsu and Zhejiang.

    For additional notes, please refer to annexes in the list of links below the introductory country profile text.