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Where do my University fees go?

Where do my fees go?

We recognise that you, our students, invest a great deal of your money, time and emotional energy into the University and you have embarked on a lifelong relationship with us.

Ours is a large and complex, global organisation which helps students and staff contribute to society through education, research and knowledge exchange. We endeavour to use all of our resources including fees, funding, capital and infrastructure wisely, to fulfil our commitments to students, funders and partners - whilst ensuring the current and future success of the University. Each academic discipline plays a valuable part in the success of the University as a whole and funds are distributed carefully to ensure this is achieved. Financial decision making is scrutinised by the University Council and Senate, with student representation from the Students' Guild and the Students' Union (formally FXU).

Our goal is to give you exceptional value for money by ensuring:

  • that your learning, teaching, support and engagement in knowledge creation, through research and scholarship, are well resourced to enable you to succeed academically on your chosen degree programme and professionally in your career
  • that you can develop your potential further through a rich extra-curricular experience that complements your academic programme
  • that your university is nationally and internationally competitive with an excellent reputation, both now and in the future. This adds value to your degree when you graduate and for your whole career, gives a continuing sense of pride and allows you to see the value of your investment in Exeter

We believe that through continual hard work and diligence, we have invested your fee wisely in order to provide the very best value for money.

Below is a breakdown of where and how your University fee was spent for the academic year 2020/2021. UK/EU tuition fees are set by the UK Government and are the same across all disciplines. University fees make up a significant proportion of our income but there are other sources too. You can find out more about these in our Annual Report for 2020/21.

The figures below represent the latest information available (i.e. academic year 2020/21).

Teaching and Learning

At the heart of all we do at the University of Exeter, is the desire to create an outstanding teaching and learning environment, as outlined in our strategy for 2030.

To achieve this we need to attract and support leading academics from around the world, who are experts in their field. They work with you through teaching and research to create the best possible learning experience. 

It is for this reason that the bulk of your University fee goes directly towards enhancing your academic experience. It is an investment we are committed to and one of the reasons why we are currently rated Gold within the Teaching Excellence Framework

This supports a wide range of activities including:

  • Academic salaries
  • Access to your academic tutor who primarily offers academic guidance but also general advice, support and signposting 
  • Field trips
  • Use of specialist equipment
  • Salaries and administrative costs of the professional services staff who directly support teaching, including timetabling and other processes

Research and Scholarship

We know that our students place great value on learning alongside academics and practitioners who are experts in their subjects. We believe that learning in a research-rich environment adds significantly to the experience of our students especially when they have opportunities to undertake research, scholarship and discovery alongside our academics. The quality of these collaborations is illustrated by more than 100 published papers in international peer-reviewed research literature since 2014 that have student (undergraduate and taught postgraduate) co-authors. This research-intensive approach doesn’t just provide a valuable learning experience for our students but can open up new avenues of thought for the academics themselves.

The great majority of funding for research is won in competition with other universities and there are two main sources. First, our academics undertake globally significant research projects funded by UK government and European Union research councils, industry and charities. Second, they receive QR funding in recognition of the outstanding quality of their research, evaluated through the Research Excellence Framework. You can read more in the University of Exeter's Annual Report for 2020/21 under 'Finance'.

In recognition of the symbiotic relationship between education and learning and research, the contribution that it makes to your development into graduates of distinction and to the international competitiveness of the University, a proportion of total tuition fee income supports research and scholarship.

In order to attract the best students and academics and to ensure the value of your degree is maintained long after you graduate, we must continually invest in our future. This includes capital investments which help to bring the very best facilities for your student experience and enhance our teaching and research capabilities.

During the past decade we have invested £500 million across our campuses, including the creation of innovative and stunning new buildings such as The Forum (pictured under construction) RILD, the ESI, LSI and SERSF.

We have committed to investing a further £428.5 million over the next ten years. We also use other sources of income to create the best facilities to support the student and academic experience. And just as the students before you have invested in future facilities which have come to fruition in time for your studies, so you will play your part in ensuring the University of Exeter's future students can also grow and thrive within the best possible learning environment.

Our excellent academics need the right facilities in order to support delivery of your degree. This includes lecture theatres, seminar rooms, academic offices, laboratories and specialist areas, as well as social and study space within academic buildings.

We continually invest in our teaching and academic space. Additional spending includes:  

  • Maintenance of buildings
  • Reduced value of buildings over time (building depreciation)
  • Cleaning
  • Security 

It’s important that we continue to recruit the most talented students in order to contribute to our highly successful and thriving international University. We believe strongly that financial circumstances, or a lack of awareness of higher education opportunities, should not prevent someone from attending university.

Our student recruitment, outreach and widening participation teams work to promote the University to new students across the world. They also make school visits throughout Devon and Cornwall to increase awareness of higher education in general and what our University can offer. Many students work alongside our outreach, recruitment and admissions teams as paid Student Ambassadors at our very successful Open Days and UCAS fairs. 

We have a range of scholarships and bursaries available to students and 9% of University fees go towards supporting this important area. Scholarships and bursaries are awarded to students who meet certain criteria and can be worth up to £3,000. 

Our range of scholarships and bursaries include:

A new 'Success for All Fund' was set up for those suffering financial hardship as a result of COVID-19. In addition we offered an IT Bursary or Loan for those in need of essential IT equipment.

Other income streams also contribute to the scholarship and bursary provision, including some scholarships established through the generosity of our alumni.

Establishing the University of Exeter as one of the top institutions in the UK and the world, with exceptional student experience, has required and continues to demand skilled and expert leadership. The University's Senior Management team is led by its Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive, along with the Provost, Registrar and three Deputy Vice-Chancellors. Together they develop and implement the leading strategy needed to provide students with the best possible University experience. They are supported in this by Professional Services, led by 22 Directors. These Services are supported by tuition fees and other University income and they focus on the following activities:

  • Alumni relations: Our alumni relations team helps you keep in contact with the University following graduation and introduces you to a wide network of thousands of fellow graduates from all around the world. Our graduates also help students and recent graduates while you are at university, in areas such as careers advice and mentoring. Last year nearly 1,000 graduates actively volunteered with us - giving more than 11,000 hours of their time 
  • Impact, Innovation and Business: Our Innovation, Impact and Business work helps to support our world-class research and education to make a real difference in society. It seeks to create opportunities for collaborations, drives place-based innovation and helps our academics to generate research impact. IIB also builds key relationships with leading partner organisations and generates income to support the University
  • Human Resources (HR): this element of the tuition fee funds the HR element which supports academic staff and those involved directly with the student experience
  • Finance: In the 2019/20 financial year, the University had a total income of £478 million. Ours is a dynamic institution operating across several campuses and interacting with students, staff, alumni and partners from around the world. Our highly skilled finance team oversees the University’s complex accounts and budgets
  • Compliance, Governance and Risk: ensuring we operate safely and legally is fundamental to everything we do. Our team of experts offers professional advice, support and guidance to University staff on institutional, academic and corporate governance. It also oversees key aspects of legislative and regulatory compliance 
  • Policy, Planning and Business Intelligence: We want the University and its students and staff to continue to thrive long into the future, thus ensuring an Exeter graduate is much sought after. In order to create the right strategies to do this, the senior executive team needs high quality and relevant information. The Policy, Planning & Business Intelligence team provides the very latest data, analysis, monitoring and reporting across a range of themes which are fed directly into the strategic planning to ensure your University

These teams are also supported by funding from other sources of income, such as research. 

Ensuring we have the right library and IT facilities to support your studies is fundamental to your success, which is why 9% is spent on maintaining and investing in these crucial services.

This gives to access to a number of library facilities such as:

  • Access to Penryn & Streatham Campus libraries
  • 1.25 million digital resources and 1 million physical books and journals – these are accessible across all of our campus through our inter-library loans system. At Penryn Campus library, this also includes access to 25,000 videos and DVDs and 3,000 geological maps
  • Access to a number of archives and special collections
  • Each subject area is also allocated a budget through their library champion, who helps to guide what the library purchases every year
  • A range of study spaces from silent to group study

As well as a number of IT facilities such as:

  • The iExeter app available on your mobile and computer, giving you access to your email, timetable, calendar, documents, library accounts and more
  • IT help desk – assisting with issues around internet access to virus problems, as well as running laptop clinics
  • Access to specialist software in IT suites
  • Free downloads of key software such as Microsoft office
  • Lecture capture – allowing you to access your lectures again from home. There have been more than 1 million views of this service since September 2016 

Having good health and wellbeing are important so that you can study effectively. We spend 5% of your University fee on making sure you have access to the wellbeing support you need.

This includes:

  • On-campus surgery: you can access a GP on campus at the Student Heath Centres located on our Streatham and Penryn campuses
  • Counselling: advice and counselling is offered by the Wellbeing team at our Devon campuses and Student Support at our Cornwall campuses
  • Disability support: Accessibility teams across our campuses are available to support students with disabilities, making sure you can fully participate with university life.

Additional support available on campus, which is funded through other streams include:

  • Advice service: The Students' Union and Students' Guild offer independent, confidential and impartial advice on money, housing and academic matters.  
  • Childcare: nursery places are available for students at childcare facilities on the Streatham and Penryn campuses
  • Religious support: the multi-faith chaplains across our campuses provide support and instruction in a range of faiths. They can also signpost you to places of worship both on campus and in the local area  

We don’t just focus on your academic life with us, we also provide services to support you in making the right career choice following graduation and secure employment as you begin your career. That’s why we spend 1% of your fee on the Career Zone and other employability opportunities.

This provides access to:

  • The Career Zone: offering help with career planning, building up the right skills and job hunting from the minute you start university, up until three years after graduation. The services they offer include:

We believe sport and wellness should be embedded into student life so we make sure we support a range of fantastic opportunities.

The University of Exeter is unique in having two Students’ Unions supporting students and they play an integral role in your student experience. Each year we give the Students’ Unions a block grant to spend on opportunities and services to support you. This is equivalent to 2% of your University fee.

In Cornwall, students are represented by The Students' Union. Their opportunities and services include:

  • Representation through SU Presidents, student officers and academic representatives
  • Advice service providing confidential support for financial, housing and academic issues
  • Freshers events and activities
  • 145 student-led groups, covering sports clubs, societies and student-led volunteer projects
  • Raise and Donate (RAD)
  • Access to a huge variety of sports clubs run by the Students' Union

In Devon students are represented by The Students’ Guild. Their opportunities and services include:

  • Representation through Guild President, Vice-Presidents and the student reps
  • Entertainment at the Lemon Grove, on campus nightclub
  • 220 societies and student groups 
  • Advice Unit
  • Volunteering
  • Raise and Give (RAG) 

The University is a multi-million pound institution. In 202/210 alone our total income was £502 million. In order to remain one of the top universities in the world the University also has to invest heavily in new infrastructure and facilities.

In common with many large scale companies, the University seeks to raise income at times when interest rates are competitive, in order to maximise its investment opportunities. This does mean that a proportion of your fees (1%) goes towards meeting those interest rate costs.

This is a new initiative and we will update and improve this information in future years, as spending may change year on year. 

If you have any questions please visit the Frequently Asked Questions.

If you have any feedback please email