Data bite: which UK universities have the most CPD courses?

Latest data from the Higher Education Business and Community Interaction Survey show University of London was biggest provider in terms of course days

April 9, 2018
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Universities in the UK are often being encouraged by politicians and others to take more of a role in providing continuing education and professional courses for those already in work.

But the latest figures on the amount of income that institutions get from offering such training show that although it represents a fair chunk of revenue for universities, it is a still a relatively small piece of the pie compared with tuition fees.

In 2016-17, universities got almost £700 million from providing continuing professional development (CPD) and continuing education (CE) courses for businesses and non-commercial organisations, according to data from the latest Higher Education – Business and Community Interaction Survey.

However, comparing this with figures on overall finances for higher education last year suggests this only made up around 2 per cent of universities’ total income while tuition fees accounted for almost £18 billion or 50 per cent of all revenue.

The universities that received the most money from providing such courses are those that might be expected to be able to charge more because of the type of learners and companies paying for CPD or the reputation of the institution. At the top of the list is London Business School, which had total revenue of £37 million, while a number of Russell Group universities are also in the top 10.

But also in the top 10 by revenue is the University of London, which provides distance learning and short courses worldwide in collaboration with its member institutions, while other universities that can offer specialist expertise like Cranfield University also feature.

The picture is different though when looking at the amount of income that universities received in 2016-17 from different types of businesses or not-for-profit organisations for providing CPD or CE courses.

Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and Continuing Education (CE) courses for business and the community by HE provider, 2016-17

InstitutionSME revenue (£000s)Other businesses revenue (£000s)Non-commercial organisations revenue (£000s)Individuals revenue (£000s)Total revenue (£000s)Total learner days

From small- and medium-sized business, the universities of Salford and York received the most money, while from non-commercial organisations Cardiff University had the highest income. Meanwhile, London Business School again came top in terms of revenue when looking at CPD provided to individuals.

Stripping out the money earned from such courses – and looking purely at the number of course days provided – also shows that the types of university that are most active in offering courses involve a wide variety of different types of institution.

The University of London delivered the most CPD and CE education in 2016-17 when measured by total learning time, with more than 270,000 days of courses delivered. It was followed by Anglia Ruskin University (around 258,000 days), Imperial College London (246,000) and Coventry University (215,000).

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