The UK higher education system’s best kept secret: How are our tuition fees spent?

According to the influential think tank, Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI), the majority of the UK’s leading universities are refusing to publish a breakdown of how each student’s £9,000 per year tuition fees are spent.

HEPI contacted a range of institutions in order to uncover where students’ money goes, however according to director Nick Hillman, only ten universities responded to their inquiries.

Leicester University, one of few to reply, indicates how it divvies up some of its £274 million annual budget, spending £168 million on academic colleges compared to just £16 million on libraries and computers. However, they failed to itemise how an individual student’s tuition fees are used.

Hillman argues that if universities refuse to itemize how earnings are allocated, they may lose out in future government spending cuts – unwelcome news for students already facing paying back tuition loans for the majority of their post-university working life.

Universities use some tuition fee income to fund infrastructure work, such as Royal Holloway’s new library. But, where does the rest of our money go?

A funding body also found that the average annual cost of an undergraduate course is £7,694, falling short of the £9,000 universities are entitled to charge students. The UK’s Student Funding Panel found that 81% of students believe they are overpaying for tuition, as it is suggested that 2012s rise in fees has not resulted in extensive innovations in teaching.

With the General Election only five months away, let’s hope the HEPI continues to shed light on how our tuition fees are spent in time to shape the manifestos of the three main political parties.