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Research guide

Published: 17 Jun 2019 Updated: 07 Dec 2022 Update History

Exclusive content
Access to our exclusive resources is for specific groups of students and members.

Use our industry guide to find key background information, market research, import and export guidelines, statistics, legislation, trade bodies and trade publications.

The Business & Industry Guides series is produced by the Library & Information Service for ICAEW members and ACA students.

We can compile tailored key players reports, mailing lists, market reports, benchmarking reports and industry news. Our enquiry team can also research other industry-specific information, such as taxation, for you. Call us on +44 (0)20 7920 8620 or email library@icaew.com.

Trends and forecasts

Online articles

The library provides full access to articles from leading business, finance and management journals.

Access to articles is provided subject to suppliers’ terms of use.

Useful links

Academies benchmark report 2020
Survey from Kreston International providing insight into issues faced by UK academies and multi academy trusts and trends within the sector. Areas covered include financial health, accounting systems and governance.

Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on university finances
Report by London Economics for the University and College Union on the impact of COVID-19 on the finances of a selection of universities across the UK. Includes analysis of student enrolments and income, net cash inflow from operating activities and employment. Also considers the wider economic impact associated with the expected reduction in higher education institutions’ income and expenditure and this impact by region.

Protected past, precarious future?
Survey from PA Consulting of university vice-chancellors published in 2019. Focuses on the policy and market changes seen in UK higher education over the past decade and the changes university leaders expect in the next ten years. Registration required.

Higher education industry outlook 2019
Insight from Deloitte into trends in US higher education. Explores four areas considered important for higher education institutions: cloud readiness, strategic risk management, identity and access management and mergers and acquisitions.

State of higher education 2020
Report published by Grant Thornton highlighting key trends and emerging issues in the higher education sector. Includes discussion of AI, attracting and retaining talent and relationships with partners including for-profits. Registration required.

EAIE Barometer: Internationalisation in Europe
Ongoing series of studies carried out by the European Association for International Education. Examines the current state of internationalisation of higher education in Europe including trends and developments within the sector. Registration required.

Adapting to change: the financial health of the UK higher education sector in 2016
Report published by Grant Thornton in 2016 on the financial health of the higher education sector. Includes analysis of financial trends over the last seven years. Also discusses challenges for the sector in the future.

Market research

Market research reports focusing on this business sector are available from a number of market research specialists. In most cases these reports are available to fee-paying subscribers or on a pay-as-you-go basis.

Industry profiles and SWOT analyses

Industry profiles give an overview of market size in different countries or regions, the competitive landscape and provide a forecast of market performance. These profiles are available for ICAEW members and ACA students through the Library & Information Service.

If you’re looking for industry profiles for regions or countries not listed above, please contact the Library on +44 (0)20 7920 8620 or email library@icaew.com.

SWOT analyses examining the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats for major companies operating in this sector are available.

If you experience any problems accessing these resources, please see our online resources troubleshooting FAQ.

Other market research specialists

Some free information is available from the following market research specialists, ranging from industry news to executive summaries of the reports.

A full listing of research reports for the education sector from Euromonitor, with reports available for a range of countries. Each report provides a contents listing and a useful executive summary reporting on the key trends in each country.

IBIS World
Business and industry research specialists offering reports on a wide range of sectors including education in the UK. Reports cover pre-primary, primary and secondary education together with technical and vocational education and universities. The company also produces global industry research reports.

Further resources

CIL Management Consultants
Thought leadership from CIL Management Consultants for the education sector. Provides useful market information and insights. Publications include:

Articles covering the latest developments in education from market research agency Schoolzone. Articles can be filtered according to type of school or educational area.

Industry news

Need to find the latest news on this industry sector? We can carry out industry news searches using a range of trade titles and general business sources through our databases. To discuss your requirements, please contact the enquiry team on +44 (0)20 7920 8620 or at library@icaew.com.

Statistics on the UK

Department for Education

Statistics from the Department for Education are published by GOV.UK on education and training. They include data on schools, further education and higher education, attainment, education expenditure and qualifications gained.

Statistics on local authority and school finance are also published by the Department for Education. They include data on income and expenditure by local authority maintained schools and academies.

Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA)

HESA publishes detailed data on the UK higher education sector on areas including:

Office for National Statistics

The Annual Business Survey (ABS) from the Office for National Statistics collects financial information covering UK production, construction, distribution and service industries. Statistics available include:

  • number of enterprises;
  • total turnover;
  • approximate gross value added at basic prices;
  • total purchases of goods, materials and services;
  • total employment costs;
  • total net capital expenditure;
  • total net capital expenditure – acquisitions;
  • total net capital expenditure – disposals;
  • total stocks and work in progress – value at end of year;
  • total stocks and work in progress – value at beginning of year;
  • total stocks and work in progress – increase during year.

The dataset Non-financial business economy, UK: Sections A to S provides data on Education (excluding local authority and central government bodies). See Section P (Part) 2 for:

  • Pre-primary education (85.1)
  • Primary education (85.2)
  • Secondary education (85.3)
  • General secondary education (85.31)
  • Technical & vocational secondary education (85.32)
  • Higher education (85.4)
  • Post-secondary non-tertiary education (85.41)
  • Tertiary education (85.42)
  • Other education (85.5)
  • Educational support activities (85.6)

Sixth Form Colleges Association

Sixth Form Colleges publications are published by the Sixth Form Colleges Association and provide information on students, funding and performance of its member institutions.

Universities UK

Universities UK provides a range of facts and statistics on higher education. Includes information on student numbers, university spending and contribution to the UK economy.

The annual publication Patterns and trends in UK higher education analyses the last 10 years in higher education. It provides data on students, staff and the finances of higher education institutions.

Statistics on Europe


Eurostat, the EU statistics hub, produces the online publication Education and training in the EU - facts and figures. It provides recent statistics for countries in the EU on areas including educational participation, level of attainment, personnel and education finance.

Statistics on the Americas

National Center for Education Statistics

The National Center for Education Statistics collects and analyses data on education in the US. Its Digest of Education Statistics includes information on number of schools and colleges, teachers, enrolments, graduates, educational attainment, finances, federal funds for education, libraries and international education.

Universities Canada

Universities Canada publishes a range of facts and statistics on Canadian universities.



The Office for National Statistics publication Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) includes average employment costs within this sector which can be found in Table 14. Average employment costs are provided for full-time employees, part-time employees and all employees.

The data includes average employment costs for:

  • teaching and educational professionals
  • higher educational professionals
  • further education teaching professionals
  • secondary education teaching professionals
  • primary and nursery education teaching professionals
  • special needs education teaching professionals
  • senior professionals of educational establishments
  • education advisers and school inspectors
  • teaching assistants
  • educational support assistants
  • school secretaries

The annual Business Register and Employment Survey (BRES), published by the Office for National Statistics, includes total employee and employment estimates for different industries for Great Britain and the UK. Figures are broken down to show full-time/part-time and public/private splits. The dataset Industry – Business Register and Employment Survey (BRES): Table 2 includes statistics for:

  • Education (85)

Other regions

Please see individual country profile pages for links to sources of national statistics.

Legislation and regulation

Schools: statutory guidance
Guidance published by GOV.UK from the Department for Education. Sets out what schools and local authorities must do to comply with the law in a range of areas.

Higher education: success as a knowledge economy
White paper published in May 2016 setting out the UK government's plans to reform the higher education and research system.


Government guidance on the impact of Brexit on the education sector

Higher education sector: new rules from January 2021
Guidance published by GOV.UK for higher education providers and students from 1 January 2021.

Further education and apprenticeships: new rules from January 2021
Guidance published by GOV.UK for further education and training providers and employers of apprentices from 1 January 2021.

Schools sector: new rules from January 2021
Guidance published by GOV.UK for schools from 1 January 2021. Includes recruiting and managing teachers and school staff, school places, running a school, school trips and exchanges and the EU Settlement Scheme.


Government guidance on the impact of COVID-19 on the education sector

Coronavirus: Financial impact on higher education
January 2021 research briefing from the House of Commons Library on the financial impact of COVID-19 on universities in the UK. Considers international and home students numbers, research work and revenue from accommodation, catering and conferencing. Government measures to support the sector are also discussed.

UK business guides

Croner-i Business Focus

Business Focus is a resource that provides practical information on many small business trades and sectors. Its Business Opportunity Profiles offer detailed insights into market conditions, legal issues and the trading environment for a range of businesses. They include:

  • Creche
  • Day nursery
  • Language tutor
  • Private exam tutor
  • Private music tutor

To find out more about Business Focus, please contact our enquiry team on +44 (0)20 7920 8620 or at library@icaew.com.

Atom Content Marketing guides

The Start Up Donut from Atom Content Marketing provides practical information on starting up and running a number of small business types. Guides cover a range of areas including market research, current trends, regulations, products and services, promotion and pricing. They include:

UK key players, ratios and trends

We can produce reports on this sector using selected information from the FAME company database. Reports are available for:

  • Pre-primary education
    UK SIC (2007) Code 851
  • Primary education
    UK SIC (2007) Code 852
  • Secondary education
    UK SIC (2007) Code 853
  • General secondary education
    UK SIC (2007) Code 8531
  • Technical and vocational secondary education
    UK SIC (2007) Code 8532
  • Higher education
    UK SIC (2007) Code 854
  • Post secondary non-tertiary education
    UK SIC (2007) Code 8541
  • Tertiary education
    UK SIC (2007) Code 9542
  • Educational support activities
    UK SIC (2007) Code 856

Summaries of the three types of report we can produce are given below. You can find further information, a sample report, pricing details and an online order form on our industry sector reports page.

We also operate a bespoke reports service with results tailored to your specifications. Please contact our enquiry team on +44 (0)20 7920 8620 or at library@icaew.com to discuss your requirements.

Key players report

Our key players report looks at the top companies (by turnover) in any one of the segments within this sector. Reports usually include the top 100 companies but in more specialised sectors with fewer than 100 companies we show all companies with disclosed figures. The reports provide data on 11 comparative fields for the last available year, including:

  • turnover;
  • profit margins;
  • returns on shareholder funds;
  • solvency ratios
  • number of employees.

Our reports enable easy comparison of the top companies in this sector against each other and against the sector median, average and standard deviation in each of the 11 fields.

Mailing list

A separate mailing list report is also available with address and contact details for the top companies in any of the segments within this sector.

Market reports

Our market reports look at the aggregated data for the top companies (by turnover) for any of the segments within this sector across all the fields usually found in a company report. The reports include data for the last 10 years* and enables easy comparison of trends for the whole sector. Reports usually include the top 100 companies but in more specialised sectors with fewer than 100 companies we show all companies with disclosed figures.

*Please note the number of companies for which data is aggregated will vary for any given year.

The market reports include sections on:

  • key financials and employees;
  • profit and loss account;
  • balance sheet;
  • cash flow statement;
  • financial ratios;
  • financial trends and changes;
  • profitability trends and changes.

UK benchmarking

We offer benchmarking reports that can be used to inform your own business strategy or help you identify value-added services to offer to your clients.

Contact the enquiry team directly on +44 (0)20 7920 8620 or at library@icaew.com for a report tailored to your own specific requirements.


BVB Insights
Annual report providing the latest transaction multiples broken down by industry. Each section includes a summary of recent deals with EBITDA, average transaction size and expert analysis of current trends within each industry. The Consumer Discretionary section includes data for Education Services.

ICAEW members, ACA students and Forensic/Valuation Group subscribers can download an overview of the report with headline industry multiples. Information on individual deals can be supplied by the Library on request.


Supplier directory
Directory from the British Educational Suppliers Association. Lists suppliers of educational products and services including classroom resources, technology and consultants.

World higher education database
Database from the International Association of Universities providing information on global higher education systems and institutions in 196 countries and territories.

Trade journals and publications

Trade bodies

Further resources

Supplementary school case studies
Case studies of seven supplementary schools showing a range of models for maintaining financial stability. Published by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation in 2015.

Further reading

Articles and books in the Library collection

To find out how you can borrow books from the Library please see our guide to book loans.

You can obtain copies of articles or extracts of books and reports by post, fax or email through our document supply service.

Can't find what you're looking for?

The ICAEW Library can give you the right information from trustworthy, professional sources that aren't freely available online. Contact us for expert help with your enquiries and research.

Every effort has been made to ensure that the information given in this Business & Industry Guide is correct. However, the content of websites changes frequently and users should satisfy themselves that the information they contain is suitable for the purposes for which they wish to use it. We would be grateful to receive notification of any broken links at library@icaew.com.


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