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United Kingdom
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Diagram of the education system



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Key

- Diagram of education system in country language

- Old diagram using ISCED 1997 classification

- General methodological notes for ISCED diagrams

Education system in United Kingdom

United Kingdom
Overview of the education system (EAG 2016)
  • Early childhood education is commonplace from age 3. The proportion of children enrolled in private institutions is near the average across OECD countries, and most funds come from public sources, but the share of private funds is above the OECD average at the pre-primary level.
  • Total expenditure (from public and private sources) on primary to tertiary education in the United Kingdom exceeds that of most OECD countries, especially at the tertiary level. An above-average proportion of funding on educational institutions comes from private sources, especially at the tertiary level, which combines high tuition fees with a widespread public loans system.
  • Teachers in the United Kingdom are among the youngest in OECD countries. In line with the general trend across OECD countries, they earn less than tertiary-educated workers, but with a smaller earnings’ gap than in most other OECD countries.
  • Children born to foreign parents are more likely to attain the tertiary level of education than those with native-born parents, in contrast to most OECD countries.
  • International students represent a large share of tertiary enrolment, particularly at higher levels of tertiary education.
  • Employment levels are high across the United Kingdom for all levels of attainment. People with a secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary qualification as their highest level of education have unemployment rates below the OECD average, for both general and vocational qualifications.
  • The gender gap in the labour market is comparatively small in the United Kingdom, and women have better labour market perspectives than the OECD average.
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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.

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    Participation in education

    The percentage of four-year-olds in early childhood and primary education in United Kingdom is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (99 %, rank 2/34 ) Download Indicator


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    General findings
    • Labour market outcomes are better among the higher-educated: on average across OECD countries, the unemployment rate is 12.4% for adults with below upper secondary education, while it is 4.9% for the tertiary-educated.
    • In all OECD countries, earnings differentials between adults with tertiary education and those with upper secondary education are generally more pronounced than the difference between the earnings of those with upper secondary education and those with below upper secondary education. This suggests large earnings advantages for tertiary education. On average, adults with a master's, doctoral or equivalent degree earn almost twice as those with upper secondary education across OECD countries, and those with a bachelor's or equivalent degree earn 48% more, while those with a short-cycle tertiary degree earn only about 20% more.
    • Adults with higher qualifications were more likely to report desirable social outcomes, including good or excellent health, participation in volunteer activities, interpersonal trust, and political efficacy.
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    • Across all levels of educational attainment, the gender gap in earnings persists, and although women generally have higher educational attainment, a large gender gap in earnings is seen between male and female full-time workers with tertiary education.
    • Across OECD_countries, tertiary-educated women earn only 73% as much as tertiary-educated men. This gender gap of 27% in earnings for tertiary-educated adults is higher than the gender gap for adults with below upper secondary (24%) and adults with upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary education (22%).
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    • In a majority of OECD countries, education now begins for most children well before they are 5-years-old. Some 71% of 3-year-olds are enrolled in early childhood education across OECD countries.
    • Based on current patterns, it is estimated that an average of 85% of today's young people in OECD_countries will complete upper secondary education over their lifetime.
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    • Based on current patterns of graduation, an average of 36% of today's young people across OECD countries are expected to graduate from tertiary education at least once before the age of 30.
    • In 2014, a majority of first-time tertiary graduates (72%) earned a bachelor's degree, 12% earned a_master's degree and 16% earned a short-cycle tertiary diploma, on average across OECD countries.
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    • On average, OECD countries spend USD 10 493 per student per year on primary through tertiary educational institutions: USD 8 477 per primary student, USD 9 980 per lower secondary student, USD 9 990 per upper secondary student and USD 15 772 per tertiary student.
    • In 2013, OECD countries spent an average of 5.2% of their gross domestic product (GDP) on educational institutions from primary to tertiary education, ranging from 3.5% in Luxembourg to 6.7% in the United Kingdom.
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    • The average primary school class in OECD countries has 21 students, and this average increases to 23 in lower secondary education. These figures represent a decrease when compared to the OECD_average class sizes in 2005.
    • The difference in average class size between public and private institutions in primary education varies substantially across OECD countries, but is considerably larger in partner countries.
    • There are 15 students per teacher in primary education, on average across OECD countries. The_figure increases to 17 students per teacher, on average, at the tertiary level.
    • On average across OECD countries, pre-primary teachers' actual salaries are 74% of the earnings of a tertiary-educated 25-64 year-old full-time, full-year worker. Primary teachers are paid 81% of these benchmark earnings, lower secondary teachers 85% and upper secondary teachers 89%.
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    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 for more details about the data collections.

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