Education at a Glance 2017
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Education at a Glance 2017

OECD Indicators

Education at a Glance: OECD Indicators is the authoritative source for information on the state of education around the world. With more than 125 charts and 145 tables included in the publication and much more data available on the educational database, Education at a Glance 2017 provides key information on the output of educational institutions; the impact of learning across countries; the financial and human resources invested in education; access, participation and progression in education; and the learning environment and organisation of schools.

The 2017 edition presents a new focus on fields of study, investigating both trends in enrolment at upper secondary and tertiary level, student mobility, and labour market outcomes of the qualifications obtained in these fields. The publication also introduces for the first time a full chapter dedicated to the Sustainable Development Goals, providing an assessment of where OECD and partner countries stand on their way to meeting the SDG targets. Finally, two new indicators are developed and analysed in the context of participation and progress in education: an indicator on the completion rate of upper secondary students and an indicator on admission processes to higher education.

The report covers all 35 OECD countries and a number of partner countries (Argentina, Brazil, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, India, Indonesia, Lithuania, the Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia and South Africa).

The Excel™ spreadsheets used to create the tables and charts in Education at a Glance are available via the StatLinks provided throughout the publication.

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Indicator B3 How much public and private investment on educational institutions is there? You do not have access to this content

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Indicator B3 examines the relative proportions of public and private expenditure on primary to tertiary educational institutions.


Chapter Highlights

  • On average, across OECD countries, public funding accounts for 85% of all funds for educational institutions, from primary to tertiary education.

  • Nearly 91% of the funds for primary, secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary educational institutions come from public sources, on average across OECD countries compared to 70% at the tertiary level.

  • Between 2010 and 2014, private sources of expenditure on primary, secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary educational institutions increased by 13%, while public sources increased by only 3%, on average across OECD countries.

Figure B3.1. Share of private expenditure on educational institutions (2014)

How to read this figure

The figure shows private spending on educational institutions as a percentage of total spending on educational institutions. This includes all money transferred to educational institutions from private sources, including public funding via subsidies to households, private fees for educational services or other private spending (e.g. on accommodation) which goes through the institution.

Note: Including subsidies attributable to payments to educational institutions received from public sources. Excluding international funds. Tuition fee payments that are made by students supported by student loans are presented as private expenditure and no adjustment has been made to account for the public cost of repayments not made.

1. Some levels of education are included with others. Refer to x code in Table B1.1 for details.

2. Year of reference 2015.

3. Private expenditure on government-dependent private institutions is included under public institutions.

4. Expenditure on public institutions for bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees.

Countries are ranked in descending order of the share of private expenditure on educational institutions for tertiary education.

Source: OECD/UIS/Eurostat (2017), Table B3.1b. See Source section for more information and Annex 3 for notes (

ContextExpand / Collapse

Today, more than ever before, more people are participating in a wider range of educational programmes offered by an increasing number of providers. As a result, the question of who should support an individual’s efforts to acquire more education – governments or the individuals themselves – is becoming increasingly important. In the current economic environment, many governments are finding it difficult to provide the necessary resources to support the increased demand for education through public funds alone. In addition, some policy makers assert that those who benefit the most from education, the individuals who receive it, should bear at least some of the costs. While public funding still represents a large part of countries’ investment in education, the role of private sources of funding is becoming increasingly prominent at some educational levels.

Public sources dominate much of the funding of primary and secondary education, which are usually compulsory in most countries. At the pre-primary (see Indicator C2) and tertiary levels of education, the balance between public and private financing varies more across OECD countries, as full or nearly full public funding is less common. At these levels, private funding comes mainly from households, raising concerns about equity in access to education. The debate is particularly intense over funding for tertiary education. Some stakeholders are concerned that the balance between public and private funding should not become so tilted as to discourage potential students from entering tertiary education. Others believe that countries should significantly increase public support to students, while still others support efforts to increase the amount of funding to tertiary education provided by private enterprises.

Other findingsExpand / Collapse

  • In most countries, the share of public sources in expenditure on educational institutions is slightly higher at primary level than at lower secondary level. Conversely, upper secondary education is less publicly funded than lower secondary education in all countries except Hungary and Poland. Tertiary education receives a higher share of private funding than lower educational levels in all countries.

  • In primary, secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary education, public sources fund over 85% of expenditure in all countries except Australia (81%), Chile (83%), Colombia (77%), Mexico (82%), New Zealand (83%) and Turkey (80%). They are the only source of expenditure in Sweden. However, there is great variation in the share of public sources at tertiary level. While it corresponds to less than 40% in Australia, Chile, Japan, Korea, the United Kingdom and the United States, it is over 95% in Finland, Luxembourg and Norway.

  • In all countries, except Canada and the Netherlands, households contribute the largest share of private funding for education at primary, secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary levels. In tertiary education, households also contribute the largest share of private expenditure in all but three countries (the Czech Republic, Finland and Sweden).

  • At primary level, annual public expenditure per student is on average across OECD countries much higher in public institutions (USD 8 660) than in private institutions (USD 4 855). However, at tertiary level, the differential is higher, with government expenditure standing at USD 12 656 for public institutions and only USD 4 900 for private institutions.

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