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UK praised for 'massive' education spending in recession

The UK has been praised for making a “massive” investment in education in the face of a major economic recession.

An international study published this morning compares the level of education spending in more than 30 advanced countries against the overall state of their economies.

The UK saw a 17 per cent increase in government education spending between 2008 – when the global financial crisis began – and 2011, despite the global recession.

This came in the face of a 2.5 per cent fall in GDP (gross domestic product), according to Education at a Glance, published by the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

The report said it amounted to “the largest increase in expenditure as a percentage of GDP across OECD countries”.

“The UK has really made a massive investment in education,” OECD education director Andreas Schleicher said. “More spending [with] less wealth is quite impressive and it brings the UK to number one in terms of the change in the national product that is invested.”

However, the study only covers one year of the present coalition government's term of office and does not take into account its most recent public spending deals.

Critics will also point out that, despite this “massive” investment, the UK is not among the top performers in the international education rankings compiled by the OECD.

Mr Schleicher said that global education spending had “generally fared really well in the economic crisis”.

His data showed that of 33 advanced countries only six – the US, Russia, Iceland, Estonia, Italy and Hungary – had cut public education spending between 2008 and 2011. 

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