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Universities take action to better explain to students how their fee income is spent

A new guide published today will help universities better explain to students how fee income, and other sources of income, are spent.  

With a recent report[i] showing around three quarter of students feel their university does not provide enough information on its spending, Universities UK has produced materials to support and encourage universities to present income and spending in a much clearer way, including how this benefits students.

The guide outlines suggested approaches for universities to more proactively present information on income and spending, and includes:

  • A guide of what to cover in a 'value for money statement'
  • Areas to consider when presenting how income is used ; from explaining how non-teaching spend adds value for students , to being transparent about the financial risks and challenges facing the sector
  • Ideas for engaging with students to ensure information is communicated as effectively as possible, such as sharing information on student-facing channels across campus; in teaching rooms or laboratories, on digital screens and prominently on websites, or in prospectuses and welcome packs
  • Best practice examples from around the higher education sector and a simple checklist to follow to achieve the greatest impact

Professor David Phoenix OBE, Chair of Universities UK's Value for Money Advisory group and Vice Chancellor of London South Bank University, called on all universities to follow the guidelines:

"Students and parents rightly want to know how their fees – and other income – is spent by universities, and for this to be presented in a way that is easy to understand, and easy to find.

"While there are good examples of universities doing this, we know there is room for improvement and particularly in making this more consistent.  

"A lack of easily accessible information on university spending has led to a misperception that fees are solely spent on direct costs of teaching and this can influence student perceptions of value for money. It is time there was better information and clearer explanations of how university spending ultimately benefits students."
 
Universities UK will review progress on the presentation of information on income and spending to students in a year's time.
 
Notes

  1. Students, university finance directors and other university staff fed into the creation of the new framework. UUK held workshops in Keele, Durham, Cumbria, Nottingham and London. A number of other university stakeholders were consulted along with the OfS, HESA and HESPA.

  1. Universities UK is the collective voice of 136 universities in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Its mission is to create the conditions for UK universities to be the best in the world; maximising their positive impact locally, nationally and globally. Universities UK acts on behalf of universities, represented by their heads of institution. Visit: www.universitiesuk.ac.uk

[i] HEPI / Advance HE (2019) Student Academic Experience Survey 2019 – specific figures were: 76% of students surveyed in England, 72% in Wales, 73% in Northern Ireland and 67% in Scotland reported that their university does not provide enough information on university spending.

 


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