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The new regulatory framework for universities will have “an unflinching focus” on students but not reduce English higher education to a “crude transaction between buyer and seller” said Sir Michael Barber as the government published a 181-page consultation report on its proposals.
Tuition fees should be capped at as low as £5,000 and the interest rate on student loans lowered to match inflation levels, according to a report published by the free-market think tank the Centre for Policy Studies.
The Higher Education Statistics Agency has published the specification of student data to be returned by higher education providers from the 2019/20 academic year. The release represents the biggest change to the way student data is collected since the Cheltenham agency’s first data collection in 1994.
The total income of higher education providers in the UK last year was £33.2 billion – an increase of 8 per cent on the previous year - official figures show.
In England, higher level fees helped to swell operating surpluses to the record level of nearly £1.8 billion, up from £1.1 billion in the previous two years.
The Higher Education Statistics Agency data also shows that total expenditure across the sector was £31.2 billion – up from 29.4 billion in 2013/14. Staff costs were just over £17 billion, of which academic staff accounted for £9.5 billion.
Across the sector, income and expenditure have both increased over the last three years. However, eight institutions in the UK saw their income fall over the same period; Bedfordshire, Cumbria, Liverpool Hope, Middlesex, Glyndwr, University of Wales Trinity St David and Abertay Dundee.
The biggest source of income in 2014/15 was tuition fees and other education contracts bringing in £15.5 billion, followed by "other income" such as accommodation and grants from local and hospital authorities (£6 billion), research grants and contracts (£5.9 billion), funding body grants (£5.3 billion), and endowment and investment income (£360 million).
Funding body grants have fallen by 25 per cent over the past three years from 7 billion in 2012/13, while research grants and contracts have increase by 23 per cent from £4.7 billion over the same period. Staff costs in 2012/13 were £15.4 billion.
International students brought in £4.2 billion last year, nearly 13 per cent of the income generated.
European Union funding of £836 million (excluding EU student tuition fees) accounted for 2.5 per cent of the total income.
The recurrent teaching grant was £2.3 billion – just over 7 per cent of the total income, while residences and catering operations, including conferences, made £1.9 billion.
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