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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Funding in education


3.Funding in education

Last update: 29 March 2023

The Spanish education system has a decentralised management and administration model. Educational powers are shared between the following:

  • the State General Administration (AGE): Ministry of Education and Vocational Training (MEFP) and Ministry of Universities (MUNI);
  • the autonomous communities (departments of education).

The general system for the transfer of funding to each Autonomous Community is settled by means of a multilateral agreement between regional governments and the State, which guarantees, through a series of mechanisms, solidarity between territories and a certain level of expenditure for the provision of the basic public service of education throughout the country.

The Autonomous Communities enjoy a high degree of management autonomy and they are therefore entitled to approve their own annual budget and to decide on the distribution of their resources.

Most of the investment in education is public, representing an 87% of the total spending on education in 2019 in primary, secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary studies, and a 65% in tertiary education.

Private expenditure comes mainly from household spending: 12% in primary, secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary studies (out of a total of 13% of private expenditure), and 30% in tertiary education (our of a total of 33%)..

Proportion of public and private expenditure on education. Year 2019


% Public Expenditure% Private expenditure: households% Private expenditure: others
Lower than higher education87%12%1%
Higher education65%30%3%

Source: Drawn up by Eurydice National Unit of Spain (National Institute for Educational Evaluation, MEFP) on the basis of Education at a Glance: OECD Indicators 2022 (Chapter 2.3.2, Figure 2.31, page 107).

Public expenditure on education refers to the amounts targeted by public authorities. Most of it is assumed by the education authorities (the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training, the Ministry of Universities and the Departments for Education in each Autonomous Community), whereas the rest is provided by other authorities.

Private funding comes exclusively from private sources. Non-university education in public schools and publicly-funded private schools supplements public expenditure and covers expenses such as books and school materials, meals, transport or extracurricular activities. In private non grant-aided schools, families must pay for registration and tuition fees. In public universities, private funding comes mainly from registration and tuition fees paid by students, the organisation of specialised courses and agreements signed with private corporations, as well as from other sources such as legacies, donations or subsidies granted by private institutions.

The annual expenditure, both public and private, per student by educational institutions is the result of dividing the total expenditure on education by the total number of students in Spain. This expenditure per student, expressed as a percentage of GDP per capita, reflects the effort made by the country in relation to its level of development.

Tertiary education students are the ones generating the highest cost, followed, in this order, by those in secondary education, primary education and early childhood education.

Annual expenditure (public and private) per student by educational institutions, relative to GDP per capita (from childhood to tertiary education). Year 2019

 Expenditure per studentPercentage GDP per capita
Early childhood education5 26419.9%
Primary education5 41820.5%
Secondary education6 74125.5%
Tertiary education8 93033.8%
All levels6 46724.5%


Source: Drawn up by Eurydice National Unit of Spain (National Institute for Educational Evaluation, MEFP) on the basis of Sistema estatal de indicadores de la educación2022 (Indicator F2, Figure 1, page 71).

Public educational expenditure in 2020 reached around EUR 55 175.6 million, representing 4.94% of the GDP, and was mainly distributed amongst pre-primary and primary education (30.5%), secondary education and vocational training (29.9%) and university education (18.4%).

Distribution of public expenditure on education according to educational activity. 2020 (in EUR thousand) 


Amount (in EUR thousand)


Pre-primary and primary education

16 809 621.5

30.5 %

Secondary education and vocational training

16 493 337.6

29.9 %

University education

8 040 492

18.4 %


1 200 506.3

2.2 %

Special education

1 623 998.7

2.9 %

Adult education

381 704.5

0.7 %

Education abroad

146 265.2

0.3 %

Supplementary services (non-univ. ed.)

1 129 025.9

2.2 %

Compensatory education (non-univ. ed.)

305 737.7

0.6 %

Extracurricular and additional activities (non-univ. ed.)

522 615.0

0.9 %

Teacher training and retraining (non-univ. ed.)

174 552.1

0.3 %

Educational research (non-univ. ed.)

109 628.6

0.2 %

General administration (non-univ. ed.)

981 349.2

1.8 %

Other higher education (non-univ. ed.)

18 983.8

0.0 %

Occupational training

771 189.5

1.4 %

Grants and financial support

2 086 632.3

3.8 %

Allocated social contributions

4 380 000.0

7.9 %


55 175 640.1

100.0 %

Source: Drawn up by Eurydice National Unit of Spain (National Institute for Educational Evaluation, MEFP), on the basis of statistics on public spending on education, 2020, (total spenditure on education by type of education activity and economic nature) of  the General Subdirectorate for Statistics and Studies of the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training. rediE has elaborated the comparative chart of public expenditure distribution according to educational activity per autonomous community.

Public spending on education also includes transfers made to publicly-funded private schools in the form of educational grants and educational agreements. In 2020, around EUR 6977 million euros were allocated to publicly-funded private schools offering pre-primary and/or primary education, secondary education, special education, other types of education and university education.

Public expenditure allocated to agreements. 2020 (in EUR thousand)

Pre-primary and primary education

3 407 336.6

Secondary education3 066 531.6
Special education409 563.9
Other types of provision30 824.6
University education62 935.1
Total6 977 191.8

Source: Drawn up by Eurydice National Unit of Spain (National Institute for Educational Evaluation, MEFP) on the basis of data from Statistics on Public Spending in education, 2020 (transfers from educational administrations to private schools by educational administration and level) of the General Subdirectorate for Statistics and Studies of the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training. rediE has elaborated the comparative chart of public expenditure distribution allocated on educational agreements per autonomous community.