Education International
Education International

Teachers’ salaries in Europe : the end of the crisis ?

published 17 November 2015 updated 17 November 2015
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Since 2010, the Eurydice Network has collected and annually published information on teachers’ and school heads’ salaries and allowances in Europe.

The report recently released for 2013/4 reveals that a majority of European countries registered an increase in teachers’ statutory salaries as compared with the previous academic year (1). Only three countries -- namely Greece, Portugal and Cyprus -- registered a decrease of more than 1% for this year. For a quarter of all countries registering an increase in teachers’ salaries, the report explains that it is due to a salary increase granted to all public employees. For another quarter of the countries, the increase in teachers’ salaries was implemented on the basis of reforms specifically intended for the education sector.

Although this positive development contrasts with the trend of previous years, it should be noted that in real terms in many countries, teachers’ salaries remain below their 2009 level. The implication is that the impact of austerity measures adopted in several European countries during the economic crisis continues to be felt on teachers' salaries. Indeed, almost half of the European countries applied salary cuts or freezes for public employees during the 2009-2014 period. In Cyprus, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania and the UK, the decrease in teachers’ purchasing power was between 5 and 10% over that period. Countries like Ireland, Spain, Romania, Slovenia and Iceland registered a decrease between 13 and 17%, and Greece up to 40%. Only a third of the regions and countries studied registered an increase in purchasing power for the same period.

The report rightly points out that the long-lasting impacts of policies affecting teachers’ wages and career prospects cannot be neglected, as attractive remunerations and working conditions constitute some of the most crucial incentives for attracting well qualified young graduates into the profession. Yet, in too many European countries, the minimum statutory salary of teachers continues to be lower than the GDP per capita. At a time when teachers are increasingly required to perform additional duties and tasks, allowances for extra responsibilities and workload also play a critical role in influencing talented people’s decision to become a teacher.

New projections released by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics on World Teachers Day 2015 show that many European countries already face a significant primary teacher shortage and that the situation will only get worse in the coming years if nothing is done to attract new recruits and retain them in the profession.

The 2013/14 Eurydice report on Teachers and School head’s salaries and allowances in Europe is available in ‘ Publications’.

(1) The data analysed in the 2013/14 report covers the period September 2013-August 2014. For countries where changes in salary occur at the beginning or end of the calendar year, the information is provided for the period January-December 2014.