Skip to main content
Search by keyword

Investing in Education 2023, a report produced in the context of the European Education Area from the European Commission, discusses the main past European trends in supporting education and provides essential discussion points for the future development of the sector.

The Covid-19 pandemic triggered the biggest disruption to our economies and societies in several decades. The subsequent recovery has brought about substantial opportunities as well as challenges for investment in the education sector. Significant support for investment in education and skills is available to Member States through the Recovery and Resilience Facility, amounting to more than 70 billion euros. On top of this, cohesion policy funding will contribute considerably to investment in quality of education in the next years. The investment focus on digital education is set to strengthen the resilience of our education systems.

However, the most recent data presented in this report shows that national investment in education did not fully keep pace with the strong economic rebound that the EU experienced in 2021. Addressing all the current economic and social challenges in the EU, including the digital and green transitions and the new geopolitical dimension, will require major public investments in several economic sectors, while keeping public finances under control. This is likely to translate into increasing competition for public funding among the various policy areas, with the potential risk of lower funding available for education in future years. The potential funding competition coincides with calls for improving the overall quality of investment in education.

The main point of the report highligh that:

  • Both opportunities and challenges lie ahead for investment in education and its future will mainly depend on its ability to ensure good learning outcomes. On the one hand, substantial support for investment in education and skills is available to EU Member States between 2021 and 2026 through the Recovery and Resilience Facility as well as Cohesion Policy funding. On the other hand, competition for public funding among the various policy sectors is likely to increase. As data on public expenditure is available until 2021 only, it still excludes the 2022-2023 financial impact of the various measures to face the energy crisis and support Ukraine in the wake of Russia’s invasion. High-quality investment in education can enhance learning outcomes, improve economic growth and help make public finances more sustainable.
  • The relationship between investment in education and learning outcomes is complex and there is no optimal level of investment in education. An increase in expenditure is associated with better scores in international tests, but the relationship is not linear and becomes weaker at higher levels of expenditure. This complex relationship between expenditure and learning outcomes at macrolevel is backed at micro-level by studies able to identify causal effects of policy interventions.
  • Research calls for more policy experimentation and evaluation in the EU. While EU countries are rather diverse in combining efficiency and effectiveness in learning outcomes, efficiency considerations must always go hand in hand with the goal of effectiveness in order to be meaningful for education policymaking. Building on previous work with Member States, the Commission launched a Learning Lab on Investing in Quality Education and Training in November 2022. The Learning Lab is a programme of activities designed to promote a culture of evaluation in education in the EU and provide knowledge and resources to identify how to help education systems deliver better outcomes. The activities will cover three main areas: capacity building on evaluation methodologies; collaborative work among Member States; analysis and evaluation of education policies

Skills intelligence publication details

Target audience
Digital skills in education.
Digital technology / specialisation
Geographic scope - Country
Industry - field of education and training
Education not further defined
Inter-disciplinary programmes and qualifications involving education
Geographical sphere
EU institutional initiative
Publication type
General guidelines