Expenditure by higher education institutions increased by Pounds 434 million to Pounds 11.3 billion last year with staff costs accounting for Pounds 164 million of the rise, according to latest figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency. Total staff costs represented 57.2 per cent of total expenditure by the sector during 1997-98, a slight decrease from the previous year. Department costs, comprising mainly salaries for academics, totalled Pounds 2.85 billion, slightly higher than the Pounds 2.8 billion cost of employing support staff, including technicians and secretaries. The total number of staff last year was 128,076 of whom 86 per cent were full-time. There was an inflow of 5,323 staff to the sector, an increase of 12.6 per cent from 1996-97. Nearly a third of all staff were employed in research only. While only a third of all staff were female, women comprised just over a half of those working part time. The average age of full-time staff was 41. Nearly 70 per cent of full-time posts were wholly financed by the institutions themselves. A quarter of these posts were in medicine, dentistry and health departments.