Quality assurance burden £1 billion, says study

Cost rises to £1.1 billion with FE and alternative providers added

June 30, 2015
A pen and a clipboard
Source: iStock

Almost 8 per cent of university teaching budgets – equivalent to £1 billion a year – is spent on complying with measures to uphold academic standards, a study says.

Assessing the full economic costs associated with quality assurance, including academic staff time, consultants at KPMG estimated that it costs the UK’s 130 higher education institutions just over £1 billion to carry out the required checks on quality.

When  the costs incurred by further education colleges and alternative providers are added, this rises to £1.1 billion, according to the report, The Cost to Providers in England of Existing Quality Assurance and Quality Assessment Practices, published yesterday.

The document was released alongside proposals to overhaul the way universities are inspected in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, which include the abolition of six-yearly institutional reviews for universities.

According to the costing document, about 38 per cent of the £1 billion cost relates to the time spent by academics ensuring that quality checks are completed. About £380 million is spent on overheads, such as the cost of premises, incurred while completing this work.

Another 9 per cent of the £1 billion (£90 million) is spent directly on staff involved in the quality assurance regime.

Asked how much institutions could save if external quality assurance requirements – such as Quality Assurance Agency reviews – were scrapped, institutions differed on how much would be saved, with some saying that the work would need to carried out anyway.

However, if those institutions sceptical about potential savings are excluded, KPMG estimates that universities could save about £90 million each year if external checks were abolished.

It also states that the total cost to the sector for preparing for a QAA review is £2.8 million per review – or £127,000 per institution, assuming that they are undertaken every six years.

The total cost of preparation for institutional visits by professional bodies is £5 million – at about £38,000 per institution per year on average. Running the external examining system costs only £26 million each year in total at about £18 per student, it says.

Other costs include: institutional subscriptions to the QAA (£3.8 million); subscriptions and other costs for the Office for the Independent Adjudicator (£3.7 million); and the running of governance structures within institutions (£8.2 million).

jack.grove@tesglobal.com

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 6 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Most Commented

question marks PhD study

Selecting the right doctorate is crucial for success. Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O'Gorman share top 10 tips on how to pick a PhD

India, UK, flag

Sir Keith Burnett reflects on what he learned about international students while in India with the UK prime minister

Pencil lying on open diary

Requesting a log of daily activity means that trust between the institution and the scholar has broken down, says Toby Miller

Microlight pilot flies with flock of cranes

Reports of UK-based researchers already thinking of moving overseas after Brexit vote

Portrait montage of Donald Trump and Nigel Farage

From Donald Trump to Brexit, John Morgan considers the challenges of a new international political climate