We employ Data Envelopment Analysis to compute the technical efficiency of Italian and English higher education institutions. Our results show that, in relation to the country‐specific frontier, institutions in both countries are typically very efficient. However, institutions in England are more efficient than those in Italy when we compare jointly their performances. We also look at the evolution of technical efficiency scores over a four‐year period, and find that, in line with an error‐correction hypothesis, Italian universities are improving their technical efficiency while English universities are obtaining stable scores. Policy implications are addressed.