Sector’s reliance on overseas income grows

Income from tuition fees paid by overseas students rose by 17.8 per cent last year to represent almost £10 out of every £100 earned by the English higher education sector.

March 7, 2011

The figures are revealed in a study by the Higher Education Funding Council for England, which evaluates the sector’s overall financial health.

It says that by the end of the 2009-10 academic year, fees from non-European Union students accounted for 9.6 per cent of all income, the highest level to date.

The report, which considers annual accounts for 2009-10 and financial forecasts for 2010-11, also notes that most universities expect overseas fee income to rise, with 21 institutions looking at an increase of more than 25 per cent this year.

The statistics come amid vocal concern over government plans to restrict student visas and show that dependence on overseas student fees varies between institutions, with just 20 universities – mainly from London and the South East – accounting for nearly 50 per cent of the sector’s total.

Overall, the report states that the academy was in strong financial shape last year, with its total surplus reaching £716 million or 3.2 per cent of income – better than any previous year for which Hefce holds records (1994-95 onwards).

Total income for institutions was £22.2 billion, representing a 5.7 per cent increase on the previous year, according to the document, Financial health of the higher education sector: 2009-10 financial results and 2010-11 forecasts.

The main reason for this is identified as the “significant” rise in tuition-fee income from home and international students.

“At the end of 2009-10, the sector had strong cash balances and healthy reserve levels, which will provide some cushion for the likely risks the sector now faces,” the report states.

Of the 129 universities and higher education colleges in the sector, 20 institutions recorded real-terms reductions in income compared with 2008-09, while another 20 recorded cash increases of more than 10 per cent.

However, the report adds that the sector as a whole has made some “slightly optimistic assumptions” about the levels of Hefce funding for this year, with financial forecasts allowing for a 1.2 per cent cut, whereas the latest announcements from the government imply a 2.6 per cent fall.

The figures in the report show that universities are also planning for a 3.6 per cent drop in public funding this year for teacher training and a 2.5 per cent cut in state income for health training.

Meanwhile, another figure in the report reveals that for the first time the sector has lost money (£69 million) due to “exceptional items” – for example, the profit or loss from the sale of property or the cost of restructuring. The study says that this reflects the large amount of restructuring going on in the academy.

simon.baker@tsleducation.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 3 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

Assistant Recruitment - Human Resources Office

University Of Nottingham Ningbo China

Outreach Officer

Gsm London

Professorship in Geomatics

Norwegian University Of Science & Technology -ntnu

Professor of European History

Newcastle University

Head of Department

University Of Chichester
See all jobs

Most Commented

men in office with feet on desk. Vintage

Three-quarters of respondents are dissatisfied with the people running their institutions

students use laptops

Researchers say students who use computers score half a grade lower than those who write notes

Canal houses, Amsterdam, Netherlands

All three of England’s for-profit universities owned in Netherlands

sitting by statue

Institutions told they have a ‘culture of excluding postgraduates’ in wake of damning study

A face made of numbers looks over a university campus

From personalising tuition to performance management, the use of data is increasingly driving how institutions operate