https://dfemedia.blog.gov.uk/2017/09/13/education-in-the-media-13-september/

Education in the media: 13 September

Did you know that the UK spends more of its national income on education than any other country in the world? Or that the UK is the second most popular country in the world for international students? Read more here...

Five key findings from the OECD report

Did you know that the UK spends more of its national income on education than any other country in the world? Or that the UK is the second most popular country in the world for international students?

These were among the findings of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) report on global education, released yesterday. This  compares education statistics and outcomes between its 35 member countries.

You can read the full report here. In the meantime, here are five things you might have missed.

The UK spends more of its national income on education than other countries

The UK spends more on education than any OECD nation, including the US, Finland, Canada, and Germany. This investment accounts for 6.6 per cent of GDP, above the OECD average of 5.2 per cent.

This is in part due to private investment in independent schools, tuition fees and early years education.

We are the second most popular destination for international students

The UK is the second most popular destination for international students going on to higher education. International students account for a large share of enrolments, especially at master’s level and higher.

Andreas Schleicher, the OECD Director of Education and Skills, also noted that the UK’s student finance system was broadly sustainable. This is nothing to pay upfront and no barrier to people going to university.

We have much higher participation in early years education

The UK has almost 100% enrolment in early years education at ages 3 and 4, and over 40% at age 2, helping young children prepare for primary school.

Children are more likely to attend pre-primary institutions in the UK than any other OECD country.

School leavers are more likely to go on to study STEM subjects, including women

In the UK we have a higher than average share of students studying science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects. This varies by subject, with natural sciences, mathematics and statistics being the most popular.

Employment levels are higher than other countries.

Employment levels are high in the UK across all levels of attainment. The proportion of young people neither in employment nor in education or training (NEETs) has also fallen since 2010.

The report received widespread pick-up in the media, including TES and Schools Week.

Responding to this report, a Department for Education spokesperson said:

This report shows that the UK is making significant progress towards providing young people with a world-class education, from the earliest stages of their schooling through to higher education and into employment.

Our early years enrolment rates are above the OECD average, we have a higher than average proportion of new entrants taking up science, technology, engineering and maths subjects at our universities, with a significant percentage of these being female, and in 2016 we recorded the lowest level of 16-18 year olds not in education, employment or training since records began.

We will continue to invest in young people so that every child, regardless of background, has the opportunity to achieve their potential and is equipped with the knowledge and skills they need to compete in a global workplace.

There was also some media coverage on the report’s findings on teacher pay and recruitment in the UK. We are investing significantly in teacher recruitment to ensure we can recruit and retain the very best teachers.

A Department for Education spokesperson said:

We take teacher recruitment very seriously which is why we are investing £1.3 billion up to 2020 to continue to attract the best and brightest into teaching and have given headteachers freedom over teacher pay, including the ability to pay good teachers more.

Opposition Day debate on student fees

From 4.30pm today, 13 September, there will be Opposition Day debate on tuition fees.

It is important to note that, despite some reports, this vote is symbolic and will have no legal effect. The House of Commons has been clear that “a resolution of this nature adopted by the House would have no statutory effect and would not have any consequence in law for the regulations”.

A Department for Education spokesperson said:

This motion has no legal effect. Our student finance system ensures that graduates only start paying back their loans when they are earning over £21,000 and debts are written off after 30 years.

This approach ensures that costs are split fairly between graduates and the taxpayer, and does this while helping more young people from disadvantaged backgrounds go to university than ever before —up 43% since 2009.

We are continuing to improve the university system and ensure that students get value for money by creating a new regulator, the Office for Students, and holding universities to account for teaching quality and student outcomes through the Teaching Excellence Framework.

Two-year degrees

What are your views on two years courses at university?

This morning, 13 September, The Guardian published a piece this morning from Debi Hayes, provost and chief academic officer at GSM London. She argues that while two-year degrees are not suitable for everyone, they are a good way to reach underrepresented groups such as mature and disadvantaged students.

Universities Minister Jo Johnson spoke about two-year degrees earlier this year, recognising that they can be a good option for students who are ready for a faster pace of learning and a quicker route into the workforce. We will consult on the implementation of accelerated degrees later this year.

You can read the full piece here.