But, in order to figure out the wider effect on Universities, it’s key to look at exactly how much a student is worth to a university when it comes to public funding.
Basically, (as of 2003/2004, with some information in the more recent publication) HEFCE derive a ‘resource’ that is required for a University to function. This ‘resource’ consists of the tuition fee added onto the grant provided by HEFCE.
So, in other words, HEFCE decide the cost of teaching a student and fund the shortfall between that cost and the tuition fee allocation.
To do this, students are broken down into FTEs, or full-time equivalent terms, where a figure is derived that represents the cost of educating the average full-time under-graduate student.
The FTE figure is then increased against a number of influencing factors like the cost ‘weight’ of a degree (laboratories carry heavy costs), whether a degree is a standard year in length (long courses used to carry a 25% premium in 03/04, not currently) and whether the area of study (mainly London) has a higher operating cost.
All home and EU students on openly accessible higher education courses are under this system of funding. A part-time student, for example, will be paid at 0.5 FTE.
The basic price for a full-time under-graduate degree, with no frills or additions, is £3,951, with the assumed tuition fee income sitting at £1,310.
So, the HEFCE pay £2,641 for each student studying a degree in Price Band D.
Wow. That took a while. There are, admittedly, a massive number of variables, but the key focus is on the price bands:
- £15,804 for price group A
- £6,717 for price group B
- £5,136 for price group C
- £3,951 for price group D (pp.24)
So, HEFCE make up a massive shortfall on the most expensive-to-run degrees, so non-completions will be especially damaging.
But, we’ll save that analysis for another post…