UK ranked 11th in education efficiency according to Sussex-led study

The education system in Finland is ranked highest for efficiency and effectiveness in a new report authored by Sussex economist Professor Peter Dolton

The UK ranks 11th in a new international comparison of the efficiency of education systems, according to a new report led by a University of Sussex academic.

Economist Professor Peter Dolton, together with colleagues at the University of Malaga and GEMS Education Solutions, analysed the school systems of 30 countries to find which of them delivered the best value for money.

The rankings of the Efficiency Index were derived from analysing how pupil/ teacher ratios and teacher salaries, which contribute to around 80% of education budgets, are combined to produce educational outcomes

The study found that the UK was ranked higher than Western European countries such as France and Germany, and grouped with other countries that were found to be “more efficient than educationally effective”, including France, Norway, Sweden, the US.

Finland’s education system was ranked the most  cost-efficient.  Other high performers among the countries analysed –  all members of the  Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) -  included Korea, Japan, and the Czech Republic.

According to the index’s model, which calculates the proven statistical link between teacher salaries or class size, the UK could match Finland high results and still make savings by increasing class sizes and making a modest cut in teacher salaries. 

The report does not advocate changes to salaries or class size in each country and makes clear that there may be labour market, cultural, economic or political reasons why this ‘maximum’ efficiency is not possible without negative consequences. 

The authors have not examined the practical impact of such changes in each country.  However, by showing how far countries fall short of the OECD’s most efficient system, the index provides a point of comparison when Governments are allocating budgets.

Notes for editors

  • ‘The Efficiency Index – which education systems deliver the best value for money?’ is written by Professor Peter Dolton (University of Sussex), Dr Oscar Marcenaro Gutierrez  (University of Malaga) and Adam Still (Development Specialist at GEMS Education Solutions). Press office: Natasha Turner:
  • University of Sussex Press Office:  Tel: 01272 678888, email:

By: Jacqui Bealing
Last updated: Friday, 5 September 2014