Less than half of tuition fees income spent on teaching students, report suggests

Less than half of tuition fee income at universities is spent on teaching, a report suggests, and the majority of students want to know more about where their money ends up. The Independent reports.

Almost three in four (74 per cent) of students would like more information on how their tuition fees – which are up to £9,250 a year – are spent,  research from the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) has found. 

Among institutions that provide a breakdown, about 45 per cent of tuition fee income is spent on the direct costs of teaching, the analysis suggests.

Much of the rest of the income goes on other academic uses, such as maintaining teaching buildings, IT and library facilities. And fees are also spent on student welfare and widening participation. 

“[Students] have a strong preference for teaching-related spending and are sceptical of things that are important to institutions but which appear less directly beneficial to students, such as marketing and spending on community engagement,” the paper says.  

The report calls on the government, regulators and institutions to make changes to increase transparency on the use of students’ tuition fees – and it suggests renaming “tuition fees” as “student fees” to reflect better how the money is spent.

Nick Hillman, the director of HEPI and a co-author of the report, said: “Tuition fees were introduced 20 years ago and they have been tripled twice.

“The arguments for telling students what they want to know are overwhelming. Where this has already occurred, it has tended to show less than half of the fees go on the direct costs of teaching but most of the rest does go on student-facing activities.”

Shakira Martin, president of the National Union of Students, said: “There clearly needs to be much more accountability built into the system – to that end, providers publishing a breakdown of where fees go would be a good place to start. There must also be a greater student involvement in the decision-making process where money is to be invested.” 

Reas the full article Less than half of tuition fees income spent on teaching students, report suggests

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Categories: Budgets, Higher Education, Teaching and University.


  1. Parent Governor

    Of course we could ban universities spending money on buildings, but then where would the students expect to be taught? The same ‘logic’ works in reverse. Why should govt fund our school buildings, leave that to the schools to sort out.

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