Money for education

The DfE has published its annual retrospective look at the amount of money generated by education as an export industry. This implies either goods or services sold overseas or alternatively consumed and paid for here by non-residents. Now that the DfE includes both further and higher education the data can no doubt be more easily collated by one government department, although with the help of others along the way.

The latest set of data refers to 2016, although the technical note doesn’t seem to define what is covered. For fees, I assume it is the academic year 2016/17, but possibly for some other products and services, the calendar year 2016? The technical document can be found at

This blog has commented upon the figures released for previous years and the trends seem largely the same; decline in language training income and from the further education sector, balanced by higher income form higher education fees still being reported and increases in equipment, publishing and awarding body sales.

Overall, HE accounts for two thirds of the income stream, so any slowdown in the world economy and post-Brexit departure or non-arrival of EU students will impact on the figures and hurt some universities in cash terms. There is also a sizeable research income attracted from overseas that may be impacted by Brexit, especially if some research teams move elsewhere.

Further education accounted for 6% of revenues in 2010, but by 2016 this was down to just two per cent. During the same period, English Language Training share of revenue fell from 14% to just eight per cent. High education increased its share during this period from 60% to 67%.

The total income from education exports increased between 2010 and 2016 from £15.88bn to £19.93bn.

With more UK schools opening campuses across the world, a proportion of their income will no doubt continue to find its way into future year’s figures once local spending has been accounted for. How far such growth can be set off against the loss of teachers from the labour market in England to help staff this export drive is an interesting debate that no doubt someone within government has had at some point. However, this transnational education activity has shown significant growth, especially in the schools sector, albeit from a relatively low base in 2010.

Some teachers returning from overseas may well bring back more cash than they had when they left to teach overseas, but such additional wealth for the country wouldn’t be captured in this data.

There is no doubt that education is a potential export growth area for the United Kingdom as a whole. New markets will be needed, especially post Brexit it there is a significant slowdown in revenues generated by higher education.



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