Annual expenditure per student
What We Have Found
New Zealand's annual public and private education expenditure per school student is below the OECD mean.
Date Updated: March 2012
Annual expenditure on primary and secondary educational institutions per student.
Why This Is ImportantA quantitative analysis using data from English schools (DfES, 2001) provides some evidence of a positive and statistically significant relationship between capital investment and pupil performance. These findings are consistent with existing research in this field.
Government expenditure per student is of particular importance when the socio-economic status of the student's family or the socio-economic mix of the school community is low. Greater per-student resource is required to overcome barriers to learning associated with access to reference material and resources, information and communication technologies (ICT), and other opportunities linked to cultural capital and educational achievement.
Effective schools require the right combination of trained and talented personnel, adequate facilities, state-of-the-art equipment and motivated students ready to learn. The demand for high-quality education, which can translate into higher costs per student, must be balanced against placing undue burden on taxpayers.
Although it is difficult to assess the optimal volume of resources required to prepare each student for life and work in modern societies, international comparisons of spending on education per student can provide a starting point for evaluating the effectiveness of different models of educational provision.
How We Are GoingAlmost one fifth (17.8%) of the New Zealand population was in schooling in 2008 (over 750,000 students). This ratio puts relatively high demands for funding of the schooling sector, compared with other countries with a smaller youth population.
In 2008 New Zealand's annual public and private per student expenditure on primary education institutions was below the OECD mean across 31 countries. Per student expenditure on secondary education institutions was also below the OECD mean, across 32 countries.
New Zealand’s education expenditure per primary school student (US$5,582 converted using purchasing power parities for GDP) was 21st in the OECD, well below Ireland, the United Kingdom and the United States, but closer to Australia (18th). Expenditure on education per secondary student in New Zealand (US$6,994 converted using purchasing power parities for GDP) was 24th in the OECD, also below Australia, Ireland, the United Kingdom and the United States.
However, New Zealand’s high performance in reading, mathematics, and science achievement for primary and middle school students, as well as reading, mathematics, and science literacy achievement for senior secondary school students suggests that there are a number of factors, other than unit expenditure alone, which lead to better student outcomes. Comparing these above average academic results against the below average expenditure suggests that New Zealand has a relatively cost effective education system.
- Cochrane, D. (2001). Why Education Matters: Race, Ethnicity, and American School-Equity Research. In, W. Hutmacher, D. Cochrane, N. Bottani. (Eds.). In Pursuit of Equity in Education: Using International Indicators to Compare Equity Policies. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers.
- DfES (2001). The Relationship Between Capital Investment and Pupil Performance. An Analysis by the United Kingdom. The Journal of the OECD Programme on Educational Building, OECD, 44, 8-9.
- Jones, J.T., & Zimmer, R.W. (2001). Examining the Impact of Capital on Academic Achievement. Economics of Education Review, 20, 577-588.
- OECD (2011). Education at a Glance 2011: OECD Indicators. Paris, OECD Publishing.
- Telford, M. & May, S. (2010). PISA 2009: Our 21st Century Learners At Age 15. Wellington: Ministry of Education.