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Transparency on tuition fee spend at NTU highlighted in new report

Nottingham Trent University’s transparency on the use of tuition fees has been highlighted in new paper published by the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI), which calls on universities to tell students where their fees go.

Nottingham Trent University’s transparency on the use of tuition fees has been highlighted in new paper published by the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI)

Where do student fees really go? Following the pound (HEPI Report 113) by Nick Hillman, Jim Dickinson, Alice Rubbra and Zach Klamann shows around 45% of tuition fee income in the UK is spent on teaching. Much of the rest goes on areas which also directly benefit students, like maintaining buildings, information technology and student support services, such as counselling.

The report also shows:

  • 74% of students want more information on where their fees go;
  • Past commitments to deliver more information have not generally been met;
  • Few students want their fees spent on recruitment, advertising or community work.

The report includes case studies from across the higher education sector to show the sort of information on fees that is currently provided to students.

At Nottingham Trent University students are provided with a detailed breakdown covering four broad areas that encompass 23 more specific categories. This puts monetary figures on each of the University’s activities funded through fees – including the Vice-Chancellor’s pay, which amount to £10 per student. ‘Student Facing Activity’ (39%) and ‘Student Facing Services’ (36%) together amount to three-quarters of fee income (75%).

Professor Edward Peck, Vice-Chancellor of Nottingham Trent University, said: ‘We believe it is right and important to tell our students where their fees go. We give our students high-level information showing £3,550 goes on student-facing activity and £3,220 on student-facing services. We also give them a detailed breakdown, which shows exactly how much we spend on salaries, buildings, the students’ union, widening participation activities and a whole lot more besides.

“It is incumbent upon universities to become ever more transparent and the recommendations in this report illustrate ways in which vice-chancellors and their senior teams can move further in this important direction.”

The report ends with 10 recommendations for universities, regulators and policymakers designed to improve transparency and public understanding. These include:

  • Relabelling ‘tuition fees’ as ‘student fees’;
  • Publishing cash figures on where fees go that relate to the actual fees paid;

Developing new income streams for the costs of valuable work that is difficult to justify funding from student fees.
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. Ministers and regulators have repeatedly demanded information on where the fees go. Yet there is still little information available and three-quarters of students want to know more.”

Jim Dickinson, a co-author of the report, said: “Students and their unions have been clamouring for information about where their fees go for years – yet despite nudges from government and sector bodies, research suggests that little progress has been made.

“Fears that increased transparency will lead to dissatisfaction are unfounded – and regardless of the balance between the state and student in funding higher education, students want and deserve to know where the money goes.”

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Published on 22 November 2018
  • Category: Press office