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New HEPI book: ‘What Do I Get?’ Ten essays on student fees, student engagement and student choice

  • 5 February 2015
  • By Nick Hillman

On Thursday, 5th February 2015, the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) is publishing its first book. ‘What do I get?’ Ten essays on student fees, student engagement and student choice includes contributions from:

  • older universities – the University of Leicester, the University of Sheffield and the University of East Anglia;
  • newer universities – the University of Hertfordshire, the University of the Arts London and the University of the West of Scotland;
  • alternative providers – BPP University and the New College of the Humanities; and
  • new low-cost higher education providers – Coventry University College and Peter Symonds College.

Nick Hillman, Director of the Higher Education Policy Institute and the editor of the new collection, said:

‘Our new book shows how universities are spending tuition fees, how their strategies have changed since £9,000 fees were introduced in England and how much diversity exists beneath the standard fee cap.

‘Going to university is about much more than money. But students, universities and policymakers all benefit from knowing where fees go.

‘It helps students decide what and where to study and facilitates engagement with their institutions. One-third of new students in England say they get poor value for money, but more information may tell them otherwise.

‘It helps universities as they stand to fare less badly in the cuts ahead if their costs are properly understood.

‘It helps policymakers understand the characteristics of our world-class university sector as the election and spending review approach.

‘HEPI’s new book includes ten different views. No one will agree with every word of every chapter. But it is designed to encourage debate about where fees currently go, how universities are changing their strategies and how much diversity there should be in the higher education sector.

‘We have a world-beating higher education system, but we need to debate the future openly if it is to stay that way.’


For further information please contact: Nick Hillman HEPI Director and [email protected].


Notes for Editors 

‘What Do I Get?’: Ten essays on student fees, student engagement and student choice is published by HEPI on Thursday, 5th February 2015. The ten chapters are:

  1. University of East Anglia – Underpinning the value of a UK degree by Edward Acton: ‘The surest way to entrench and deepen the incipient shift in higher education priorities is for UK universities to spell out and commit to the necessary staff:student ratio and student input norms necessary for the gilt-edged degrees the UK is supremely well placed to deliver.’
  2. University of the Arts London – One size does not fit all by Nigel Carrington: ‘The Government knows the fees model alone does not work for science subjects, so recognises the risk to the supply of talent to a strategically-important industry and provides accordingly. It fails to recognise the same risk to a different industry.
  3. University of Sheffield – Student engagement and £9,000 fees by Tony Strike and Paul White: ‘Sheffield has wanted to stay the same: delivering world-class education to its undergraduates. But to do so it has had to change certain aspects of its model for educational delivery and capital financing.’
  4. University of Hertfordshire – Embedding employability by Richard Brabner: ‘We now identify and publish a set of attributes our graduates should have by the time they leave. These are based on feedback from employers and include: professionalism, employability and enterprise; learning and research skills; intellectual depth, breadth and adaptability; respect for others; and social responsibility.’
  5. University of Leicester – Explaining student fees to students by Martyn Riddleston: ‘In seeking to communicate with students how the student fees fit into the wider picture of University funding, we produced analysis that would: be simple to understand; explain why value for money is more than just fees paid divided by contact hours; and outline wider issues with the University’s finances, including why we need to generate a surplus and the link between research and teaching.’
  6. New College of the Humanities – Where quick minds meet by Matthew Batstone: ‘We believe this “Robin Hood” style fee model, imported from the United States, is the fairest way of offering our style of education. In our first two years of operation, we have about 100 students and around 30 per cent pay nothing.’
  7. BPP University – Why does university cost so much? by Carl Lygo: ‘I am left asking: “Where has all this extra money gone?” I fear the answer may be that is has gone to boost pension funds, research and Vice-Chancellors’ pay – anything but enhance the undergraduate student experience and the direct costs of undergraduate provision.’
  8. Coventry University College – A different experience on the same campus by Ian Dunn: ‘Assessments take the form of individual and group coursework, which is vocationally relevant, because the College does not believe that written examinations will help students in the world of work.’
  9. Peter Symonds College – Higher education in a sixth-form college by Alex Day: ‘Sixth-form colleges have a “winning formula” at Level 3 and the experience of our college is that this can be successfully extended into higher-level education in a cost-effective way.’
  10. University of the West of Scotland – Managing resources while promoting success by Craig Mahoney and Ian McCue: ‘In particular, the aim is to transform UWS from a local recruiting university to an international selecting university, by internationalising not just the student intake, but also the staff, culture, research and academic portfolio.’


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