Education spending trails OECD


Ireland remains close to the bottom of the international league table on education spending relative to the country's economic wealth, according to a new OECD report published today.

The Education at a Glance 2010 report shows Ireland invests about 4.7 per cent of its GDP on education compared to an OECD average of 5.7 per cent.

Only the Czech Republic, Italy and Slovakia rank worse than Ireland in terms of education spending among OECD countries.

The study shows that spending on all levels of education combined doubled between 1995 and 2007 in Ireland. However, GDP more than doubled over the same period leading to a decrease in expenditure as a proportion of income.

The new report, which features data on all OECD member countries and eight non-OECD States, shows that spending on education in Ireland has fallen back significantly since 1995 when the country invested 5.2 per cent of GDP on education.

The study reveals that average annual expenditure on a second level student is 30 per cent higher than at primary level while annual average spending on a third level student is nearly double what is spent on a primary pupil.

It also indicates that Ireland has the seventh-highest graduation rate among industrialised countries, placing it ahead of the UK and the US.

According to the report, teachers in Ireland teach 735 hours per annum compared with European average of 661 hours. In addition, the ratio of students to teaching staff in Irish second level schools is higher than the average among other European member countries

The OECD report shows spending levels vary considerably between member countries, both in absolute and relative terms.

OECD countries spend 6.2 per cent of their collective GDP on educational institutions, ranging from more than 7 per cent in Denmark, Israel, Iceland, the United States and the partner country the Russian Federation to 4.5 per cent or less in Italy and the Slovak Republic.

The report shows that on average across OECD countries, a man with third-level qualifications will generate $119,000 (€93.386) more in income taxes and social contributions over his working life than someone with just an upper secondary level of education.

It says that even after taking account of the cost to the public exchequer of financing degree courses, higher tax revenues and social contributions from people with university degrees make third-level education a good long-term investment.

The OECD area covers Australia; Austria; Belgium; Canada; Chile; Czech Republic; Denmark; Finland; France; Germany; Greece; Hungary; Iceland; Ireland; Italy; Japan; Korea; Luxembourg; Mexico; Netherlands; New Zealand; Norway; Poland; Portugal; Slovakia; Slovenia; Spain; Sweden; Switzerland; Turkey; United Kingdom and United States.

Estonia, Israel and Russia have also been recently accepted as members of the organisation.