Quick facts

Please note that all figures refer to England only unless otherwise stated.

Facts and figures on tuition fees and student finance

_MG_6268For students starting their studies in the academic year 2016-17:

Please note that there are different figures for part-time students, ‘continuing’ students and for students on sandwich work placements or study years abroad. There are also different fee caps for old-system students. For more about this, see our tables showing Fee and bursary limits (including exceptions) and state support thresholds.

There is a breakdown of fees by university/college in OFFA publication 2015/06, Access agreements for 2016-17: key statistics and analysis.

Facts and figures about participation in higher education

_MG_6325Young people

UCAS entry rates to higher education for 18 year-olds from the most disadvantaged neighbourhoods of England have increased by 73 per cent since 2006 to reach 19.5 per cent in 2016 (i.e. nearly one in five of these young people are accepted to higher education). This is the highest rate ever.

However there is still a large gap between entry rates for people from different backgrounds: 18 year-olds from the most advantaged areas are nearly two-and-a-half times more likely to enter higher education than disadvantaged 18 year olds, and nearly six times more likely to enter one of the universities with the highest entry requirements.

Source: UCAS Undergraduate 2016 end of cycle report. Note that this measures acceptances through UCAS only and there may be some differences between these entry rates and actual student numbers because some students apply through other routes, or do not take up offers.

Mature and part-time students

The number of people entering higher education aged 21 and over (mature students) fell 44 per cent between 2010-11 and 2015-16 (from 308,875 in 2010-11 to 173,225 in 2015-16). The number of part-time entrants fell by 58 per cent in the same period from 242,090 to 100,500.

Source: Higher Education Statistics Agency widening participation performance indicators (Tables T2a and T2b).

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Number of access agreements for 2016-17

_MG_4230A total of 183 universities and colleges have approved access agreements for 2016-17: 121 higher education institutions and 62 further education colleges.

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How much money do universities and colleges spend under their access agreements?

In the academic year 2015-16 (the most recent year for which we have data on actual investment), universities and colleges spent £725.2 million on access measures under their access agreements. This represents 27.4 per cent of their income from fees above the basic level.

Of this, they spent:

Universities and colleges have told us in their access agreements for 2016-17 and beyond that they plan to substantially increase their access agreement investment each year to reach a predicted £834.1 million in the academic year 2020-21. This is shown in the chart below. For more details see OFFA publication 2016/07, 2017-18 access agreements: institutional expenditure and fee levels.

Access agreement investment, 2012-13 to 2020-21

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Outreach

IMG_6130What is outreach?

‘Outreach’ is activity that helps to raise awareness, aspirations and attainment among people from disadvantaged backgrounds, e.g. summer schools that give a taste of university life, homework clubs for pupils who may not have anywhere to study at home, or universities forming and sustaining links with employers and communities.

How much are universities and colleges investing in outreach?

In the academic year 2015-16 (the most recent year for which we have data on actual investment), universities and colleges spent £119.5 million on outreach activities under their access agreements. This was a 14 per cent increase from £105.2 million in 2014-15.

Universities and colleges predict that they will invest £136.7 million in outreach via their access agreements in the 2016-17 academic year, increasing to £171.3 million by 2020-21.

For details of an individual institution’s spending plans please refer to its access agreement.

Examples of outreach measures in 2016-17

IntoUniversity is a national network of local learning centres that support children and young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to attain either a place in higher education, or another chosen aspiration. In partnership with various universities, the centres provide academic support, employment mentoring, summer schools and evening/weekend activities, and give school pupils a chance to experience the type of focused, single-subject study that they would do at university.

St George’s Hospital Medical School runs Experiments Roadshows in schools for Year 5-11 pupils, facilitated by Student Ambassadors. The roadshows offer activities that put school science lessons into real-life medical/healthcare contexts, and thus help to raise aspirations and awareness of educational and career opportunities. Topics covered include prosthetics, radiography, physiotherapy, and para-medicine. There is also age-appropriate advice on entry routes and the application process.

The University of Leeds runs the Students into Schools project in which undergraduate students work as tutors in local schools. This programme serves a dual purposes of raising aspirations and attainment in local schools while also helping the undergraduates learn skills that improve their employability and can earn credit towards their degrees.

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Student success and progression

_MG_6283What are student success and progression?

‘Student success and progression’ means supporting students from disadvantaged backgrounds during their studies, so they are more likely to complete their courses and fulfil their potential, and as they prepare to go on to their chosen career or postgraduate study – e.g. programmes to help students settle into university life, study skills support for mature students, or mentoring by graduates employed in the professions. Student success and progression are important aspects of fair access, since access is only meaningful if students complete their courses and go on to the next stage of their journey.

How much are universities and colleges investing in student success?

In the academic year 2015-16 (the most recent year for which we have data on actual investment), universities and colleges spent £117.1 million on student success activities for people from low-income backgrounds and other under-represented groups. This was a 21 per cent increase from £97.0 million in 2014-15.

Universities and colleges predict that they will invest £134.7 million in 2016-17 through their access agreements on measures to improve student retention and success, rising to £185.8 million by 2020-21.

For details of an individual institution’s spending plans please refer to its access agreement.

Note: OFFA regulates activity that supports students from low income backgrounds and other under-represented groups. Institutions may also offer wider support that is available to all students and not all of their investment in that will be included in our figures – only the proportion that relates to students from low income backgrounds and under-represented groups.

Examples of student success work in 2016-17

Kingston University offers academic mentoring for students, particularly targeting support to those who enter with vocational qualifications. Trained undergraduate students, with the support of senior student mentors and academic staff, work with students one to one or in small groups to address any issues they’re experiencing and thus improve retention, attainment and employability.

Bournemouth University’s GROW@BU scheme provides a holistic approach to student development and success where academics, peers, and professional staff work across the university to provide support such as tutoring, mentoring, coaching, and help with study skills.

At SOAS, University of London, there are two week-long courses of tailored support delivered before students start their course; one for students who are the first in their family to go to university and one for students aged 21 and over. Called Bridging Courses, they are designed for students who may have missed out on the informal networks of information, advice and guidance that are available to people who go to higher education straight from school or college, or have family members who attended university. The programmes include academic lectures, study skills workshops, personal skills sessions, work with student ambassadors, and support with writing their first undergraduate essay.

How much are universities and colleges investing in progression?

_MG_6256In the academic year 2015-16 (the most recent year for which we have data on actual investment), universities and colleges spent £41.1 million on progression activities for people from low-income backgrounds and other under-represented groups. This was a 38 per cent increase from £29.8 million in 2014-15.

Universities and colleges predict that they will invest £49.8 million in 2016-17 through their access agreements on measures to improve progression, rising to £68.1 million by 2020-21.

For details of an individual institution’s spending plans please refer to its access agreement.

Examples of progression work in 2016-17

Birkbeck College collaborates with the East London Business Alliance to provide a mentoring scheme that helps students gain insight into the professional world. Their Alumni provide one to one advice and support to students and graduates in order to develop entrepreneurial skills and facilitate career progression.

De Montfort University runs the Frontrunners Internship scheme which offers students paid internships on campus in order to enhance their employability. Alongside the internship, the scheme also includes a range of additional development activities including careers workshops, interview preparation and support with job applications.

Myerscough College’s ‘Learn2Work’ programme provides a framework of learning materials, support and recognition for the development and enhancement of student employability skills. These ‘Learn2Work’ career planning sessions are embedded across the curriculum to provide industry experience and a focus on future career opportunities.

Leeds Beckett University’s Student Hub provides online support, drop in services, careers appointments, access to online resources and information on employment and developmental opportunities in order to help students improve their employability. Advice and guidance is also available from the University’s careers service team for recent graduates covering career choices, CV writing, interview techniques and employer engagement.

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Financial support

_MG_4185What is financial support?

We ask institutions to tell us about three main types of financial support:

See below for some examples of financial support.

Note: OFFA regulates financial support that is specifically for students from low income backgrounds and other under-represented groups. Institutions may offer other support that is not included in our figures, for example merit-based scholarships open to all students, including those from more advantaged backgrounds.

How much financial support do universities and colleges give to students?

In the academic year 2015-16 (the most recent year for which we have data on actual investment):

The £447.5 million total comprised:

Universities and colleges predict that they will invest £431.5 million in 2016-17 through their access agreements on financial support, reducing to £408.9 million in 2020-21.

What is a typical/average bursary?

Bursaries vary greatly from £100 to £9,000 or more per academic year, so it is impossible to give a ‘typical’ figure. In 2015-16, the average bursary amount for first-year students from the lowest income backgrounds was £1,550, which is £200 lower than in 2014-15 (£1,750).
Examples of the main types of bursary

Bursary criteria

Many higher education institutions offer bursaries, scholarships and fee waivers aimed at students from under-represented groups. The criteria can include:

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Examples of financial support

Here are some examples of the main types of financial support.

‘Fixed’ bursaries

The University of Cumbria provides Cumbria Bursaries to students from low-income backgrounds. Full-time undergraduate students receive £1,000 per year and part-time undergraduate students receive £500 per year.

‘Sliding scale’ bursaries

Leeds City College offers bursaries on a sliding scale according to household income:

Household income Bursary (given in instalments over three years)
From To
£0 £25,000 £500
£25,001 £42,600 £250

http://www.leedscitycollege.ac.uk/fees-and-finance/he-fees-and-funding/

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Fee waivers

Loughborough University offers fee waivers to mature students, with the value of the waiver determined according to each student’s household income.

In-kind support

The University of West London’s Aspire scheme offers credit towards the cost of learning materials, course equipment, bikes and clothing, with the aim of encouraging book-buying and helping prevent students leaving their courses early. Full-time students get £100 and part-time students get £50.

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Location-based awards

Some universities and colleges give awards to students who live in areas classed as having relative deprivation, or known to have low participation in higher education.

The University of Bristol offers a full tuition fee waiver and an annual bursary of £3,750 to full-time undergraduates who have participated in its outreach scheme with local schools, Access to Bristol, and who have a household income below £25,000. 

Subject-based awards

Walsall College’s STEM Bursary offers £800 to students studying science, technology, engineering, computing and health subjects.

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Hardship funds

Some universities and colleges provide a hardship fund for students facing unexpected financial difficulties.

Bath Spa University has a University Access Fund totalling £160,000 to help students experiencing financial hardship. Priority is given to students from low-income backgrounds, students from low-participation neighbourhoods, students with children, mature students, students with disabilities, care leavers and students who are homeless.