Where your fees fit in
The University invests in both outstanding academic provision and the student experience and makes every effort to ensure that income from fees is deployed fairly and appropriately. But where does the University's income come from and how is it invested? This FAQ seeks to explain how tutition fees contribute to the University's finances.
Where do my student fees go?
We worked with Universities UK, who represent over 130 universities in the UK, to put together this video which explains where we've been investing student fees in order to improve the experience of everybody who works and studies with us.
Does the University make a profit?
For the last academic year (2015/16) the balance of income and expenditure of the University is expected to show a small surplus (see below), which is reinvested to improve facilities. The University is not a private or limited company and has no shareholders.
Figures for 2015/16
|Other gains||£2 million|
So the University’s income comes entirely from tuition fees?
Tuition fees actually account for less than 50% of the University’s income, with the majority of income coming from government grants, research grants and contracts, our trading activities and donations.
All sources of income help support world-changing research, high-quality research-informed teaching, a first-class student experience, a vibrant and inspirational academic community supported by outstanding facilities and talent, and a generous package of support and scholarships that help make a University of Leicester education one of the very best in the UK and among the top 1% in the world.
What do you mean by research-informed teaching?
At Leicester we offer inspirational teaching by passionate academics, who are at the cutting-edge of research in their field. This concept of combined, or synergistic, teaching and research is a key part of what makes Leicester distinct from other Universities and it creates an environment that results in the highest quality teaching and an intensive research culture.
From the discovery of DNA fingerprinting to leading the search for Richard III, Leicester academics have a rich and proud tradition of conducting pioneering research. And because we believe that teaching is inspirational when delivered by passionate scholars engaged in world-changing research – and that our research is stronger when delivered in an academic community that includes students – those who study at Leicester are immersed into a stimulating and innovative learning environment.
So the University spends its income on academic departments that support research and teaching?
Investing in academic staff and the various departments and schools is vitally important, but it accounts for just part of the University’s overall investment. The University is a community, employing 3,600 staff and teaching more than 20,000 students. And like any community it needs support services, such as the library, labs, computers and IT services, buildings and the campus estate, and a network of people to keep the community going and provide valuable support. Every effort is made to ensure that income from fees is deployed fairly and appropriately. A breakdown of what the University spends its money on is presented in the chart below.
You’ve been investing in improving the campus and academic experience then?
The University has invested almost £154 million in campus improvements over the last five years and is developing an ambitious £370 million 10-year capital programme . Key student facilities have been transformed through a number of significant investments including £17 million in the Percy Gee Students’ Union, £32 million in the David Wilson Library and £11 million in sports facilities. During 2015/16 the £42 million Centre for Medicine was completed, providing state of the art facilities for medical teaching and applied research.
Capital spend by academic year (£1,000s)
That’s great, but what about investing in teaching and research?
The University increased expenditure in academic schools and departments by 3% in 2015/16. Almost 59% of the University's expenditure is staff costs, which allows us to offer inspirational teaching by passionate academics and to embark on world-leading research, which is helping to advance knowledge and improve lives around the world.
What support do graduates of the University and other supporters provide?
The University of Leicester was founded on a legacy gift and the willingness of alumni and friends to consider the University as one of their causes to support has encouraged us to invest over the last six years in reconnecting with our own tradition of philanthropy for education. In that time we have raised over £20m and in the last year alone over 1,300 donors supported the University. We have achieved so much that would have not been possible without generous philanthropic support; notably, the £12.5m New Gallery at the Attenborough Arts Centre, the award-winning David Wilson Library, the state of the art £12.5m Cardiovascular Research Centre (CRC) at Glenfield Hospital and most recently the £42m Centre for Medicine.
Philanthropy Facts and Statistics
For more information on the big impact made by the generosity of our supporters please read the University’s Benefactors’ Review.
It seems like I’m paying quite a lot per teaching hour?
Fees contribute to much more than the cost of a lecturer or contact hours. Choosing a university isn’t like buying a mobile phone contract where you compare providers based on how many minutes they include in a bundle. Whereas all phone minutes might be of a similar quality, clearly teaching isn’t. At Leicester you can be sure that you’re benefitting from high-quality, research-informed teaching.
To use an analogy, if you book a week’s B&B at a hotel you are on the face of it paying for seven nights in a bedroom and seven breakfasts. However, the total experience is much more than that. The value comes from the quality of the hotel, the service of the staff, the proximity to the beach, extra amenities such as a swimming pool or gym, the great weather etc.
Similarly, time spent at a university is not just about the number of hours spent in lectures or seminars but about the quality of that teaching and facilities such as the library, academic and personal support services, careers advice, the Students’ Union etc. In that sense, the term ‘tuition fee’ is misleading because this money pays for much more than tuition.
So the value of the Leicester experience is more relevant than the cost per contact hour?
The university experience at Leicester provides an outstanding opportunity to be part of a rich academic community and discover more about yourself and your passion for knowledge. Whether that’s working towards your dream job with the support of the careers service, immersing yourself in your subject, making the most of a ready-made network of staff and peers, taking advantage of outstanding facilities, developing life-long friendships or learning new skills in clubs and societies.
To think solely in terms of cost per contact hour is to miss the true value of the university experience and wholly underestimate the benefits that a University of Leicester education will continue to deliver throughout a lifetime.