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UK performs well in the EU education and training 2020 targets
The monitor measures the EU's progress on the six education and training 2020 targets, such as the share of early school leavers should be less than 10%, the share of 30 to 34 year-olds with tertiary educational attainment should be at least 40%, at least 95% of children between the age of four and the age for starting primary education should participate in education, the share of 15 year-olds with underachievement in reading, mathematics and science should be less than 15%.
The rate of 4-year-olds and older enrolled in early childhood education and care has reached 100% in the UK. This puts the country among the three best providers in the EU with France and Malta.
The report also found that the UK has one of the highest rates of tertiary attainment in the EU (48.1%). Also, contrary to the EU average, the UK foreign-born population has significantly higher tertiary attainment rates than the native-born one. On average in the EU, the 30-34 year olds have a 4.6 pp. higher tertiary attainment rate for native-born than for foreign-born people.
The early school leaving rate in the UK dropped from 14.9% in 2011 to 11.2% in 2016. It remains slightly above the EU average of 10.7% but just as with tertiary attainment, early school leaving is lower among students born outside the country (9.4% vs. EU figure of 19.7%) than those born in the UK (11.5%). The gender difference recently increased, with boys now more likely to leave school early by 3.3 pps. in 2016, above the EU average (3 pps.).
One of the EU's targets for 2020 is to reduce the share of 15-year-old pupils who underachieve in basic reading, maths and science to 15%. However, as a whole, the EU is actually moving further away from this objective, particularly in science, where the number of low achievers increased from 16% in 2012 to 20.6% in 2015. The UK has also moved further away from the objective, despite doing better than the EU average.
Across the EU, investment in education has recovered from the financial crisis and increased slightly (1% year-on-year in real terms). About two-thirds of member states recorded a rise. Four countries increased investment by more than 5%. The UK’s general government expenditure on education as a proportion of GDP stood at 5.1% in 2015, above the EU average of 4.9%. Similarly, in 2015 the UK spent a higher proportion of total government expenditure on education — 12% — than the EU average of 10.3%. However, these are the lowest proportions the UK has seen since 2007, representing a significant drop from 6.5% of GDP in 2010.
The European Commission will present this year's data on education and training to EU leaders on 17 November, in Gothenburg, where the leaders will discuss Education and Culture as part of their work on "Building our future together".
Tibor Navracsics, EU Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport will host the first ever EU Education Summit on 25 January 2018 where high-level representatives from across member states will be invited to discuss how to make national education systems more inclusive and effective.
The Commission's Education and Training Monitor 2017 is the sixth edition of this annual report that shows how the EU's education and training systems are evolving by bringing together a wide array of evidence. It measures the EU's progress on the six education and training 2020 targets: (1) The share of early leavers (aged 18-24) from education and training should be less than 10%, (2) the share of 30 to 34 year-olds with tertiary educational attainment should be at least 40%, (3) at least 95% of children between the age of four and the age for starting primary education should participate in education, (4) the share of 15 year-olds with underachievement in reading, mathematics and science should be less than 15%, (5) 82% of recent graduates from upper secondary to tertiary education (aged 20-34) who are no longer in education or training should be in employment, (6) at least 15% of adults (aged 25-64) should participate in formal or non-formal learning.