The amount Britain’s universities are spending on research and development is being dwarfed by their European neighbours, according to analysis of OECD data by R&D tax specialists Catax.

The UK spends 0.42% of its GDP on university-based R&D which translates to just £3,587 for each of the country’s 2.3 million students in higher education1.

Incredibly, this is only 11% of the amount that first-placed Switzerland spends (£31,192) and 26% of runner up Singapore’s (£13,403) investment.

The Scandinavian countries are also towards the front of the pack for R&D spend per student - Denmark, Sweden and Norway all feature in the top ten.

Britain places 17th in the table of 42 countries and is outstripped by economic minnows like Iceland which, despite having an economy 130 times smaller than ours, manages to invest  £5,401 per student in university R&D. It’s a similar picture for Luxembourg (£4,630) which, despite having an economy just 2% of the size of the UK’s, still manages to spend 29% more per student.

These figures will fuel concerns that Chancellor Philip Hammond’s plan to put R&D at the centre of the UK’s new ‘stronger, fairer, more balanced economy' isn’t being fully realised.

However, the UK is ahead in comparison to global superpowers, with China and Russia spending only £345 and £225 on R&D per university student and the US allocating just 70% (£2,541) of that spent in the UK.

Meanwhile the Catax analysis has also exposed a potentially significant correlation between R&D spend per student and the Human Development Index, which is calculated by combining the major indicators of health, education and income.

Switzerland, ranked highest on R&D spend per student, is second on the HDI with a score of 0.939. In fact, five of the top-ranked countries for R&D spend per student - Switzerland, Norway, Denmark, Singapore, Iceland - also feature in the top 10 for HDI2.  

TABLE: Top 10 university R&D spend by country



% of GDP spent on R&D in Universities 

£ Spend per student






































































United Kingdom








New Zealand



Mark Tighe, CEO, Catax comments:

“Universities are the engine rooms of innovation with the potential to cement Britain’s reputation as a global powerhouse as we exit the European Union. This analysis demonstrates how smaller countries are punching above their weight when it comes to R&D funding, leaving Britain in their wake.

“The UK’s universities are world renowned, and for good reason, but there is a risk that they aren’t being given enough of an opportunity to innovate. Investing in our brightest young minds is something worth doing, and quickly.

“Given the government’s claim that the UK is leading the technological revolution with high value R&D investment, it is alarming how far the UK trails behind.”

You may also be interested in these articles:

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Advertiser Skyscrapers

Video Advert

Newsroom Activity

Jo Moriani added a new event 3 hours


Overview Ofsted has now announced in detail its plans for carrying out what it calls ‘interim visits’ in the autumn period up to the end of...

  • Thursday, 22 October 2020 10:00 AM
  • Online

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In May 2020, FE News had over 120,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.


We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.


FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page