Public expenditure on education in China 2011-2019

In 2018, public spending on education in China reached 3,491.3 billion yuan. Education expenditure increased continuously over recent years, but growth rates are considerably lower than ten years ago.

Development of public spending on education

Since the beginning of the reform era, the Chinese government attached great importance to the development of the educational sector. Besides structural reforms, public spending on education was increased considerably. However, the whole educational sector lagged far behind international standards in terms of quality as well as quantity. Public expenditure on education as a share of the national GDP, which is a common measure to compare educational systems, ranged at only around 2.5 percent in the mid-1990s. In 1993, the government announced the plan to increase educational spending to four percent of the GDP until 2000, but it took 12 more years to reach that target. However, considering that at the same time the GDP grew by double digits most of the years, the financial situation of the education sector improved greatly. This manifests itself in the substantially increased number of graduates and quality of degrees. Since achieving the four percent target in 2012, the growth of educational spending, which had reached more than 25 percent per year in the years before, was reduced to levels equaling the GDP growth. Compared to the public spending on education of developed countries, China is still at the lower range and did not reach the OECD average of around five percent of the GDP in 2015.

Spending per student

Even though educational spending in China improved a lot in the last decades, when calculated per student, expenditure is still far behind developed countries. While spending per student on a tertiary level of education in OECD countries averaged nearly 15,600 U.S. dollars in 2016, it reached only 36,300 yuan per student in China in 2018, which is less than one third. This fact sheds some light on the average quality level of the educational system in China on a general basis and reminds us that China is a huge and populous country. Of which, some elite schools in the big cities coexist with vast numbers of schools in the countryside operating on a completely different level of quality.

Public expenditure on education in China from 2011 to 2019

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Source

Release date

February 2020

Region

China

Survey time period

2011 to 2019

Supplementary notes

Note: 1 yuan equals approximately 0.14 U.S. dollars and 0.13 euros (as of April 2020).

Figures have been rounded to provide better understanding of the statistic.
Figures for earlier years have been taken from previous publications.

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Statistics on "Education in China"

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