Value for money statement – University finances and undergraduate student fees

The following information sets out how the University’s finances work – where our income comes from, what we spend our money on, and how a typical undergraduate student fee is used.

The benefits of a University of Birmingham degree are measured over a long period – the opportunities it leads to, the people you meet, and the skills you gain stay with you for life. The value of a Birmingham degree lies in our students’ educational experience, the opportunities available across the University, and preparation for life after graduation.

Education is two-way conversation. Our lecturers are subject experts who challenge students’ thinking. This develops the all-round skills needed for the modern working world – critical thinking, problem solving, communication, and creativity. We provide opportunities, within the curriculum and beyond, to help our students to stand out in a crowded job market including internships, work experience, learning from our alumni, and careers advice. Our international approach to education, whether through placements overseas or learning on campus, means our students are ready to operate in a global environment when they graduate. University is also about the time students spend with us, trying new activities and making lifetime friendships, on a campus and in a city they can call home.

The University’s finances

Infographic graphic showing the University of Birmingham's total income and expenditure.
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Just over half of the University’s income comes from student fees (including UK, international, undergraduate and postgraduate students). Around one quarter of our income is for our research; this comes from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), EU and other international funders, and a range of industrial partners. The remainder comes from a variety of sources including government grants (for example, to contribute to the costs of teaching high-cost STEM courses), charitable fundraising, investments, and business activities such as conferences and ‘spin-out’ companies.

All of our income is spent on the University - teaching and research, libraries and laboratories, sports venues and social spaces. Much of the expenditure in most categories goes on staff salaries - academics in our Colleges and Professional Services support.

For more detailed financial information, please view our Annual Accounts.

Additional information

Fees from UK and EU students

These fees are currently capped at £9,250 a year, and students can take out a loan to cover this cost. Fee loans are only repaid when a graduate is earning above a certain amount, currently £27,295. The actual amount a student will pay for their course will therefore depend on how much they earn after graduating.

Government teaching grants

Some subjects cost more to deliver than the fees that UK students pay. For these courses the government provides income to fill some, but not all, of this funding gap. Universities receive around £1,500 from the government (via the Office for Students) for courses that involve laboratory and studio work, and up to £10,000 for medicine and dentistry courses.

Fees from international students

Unlike home students, universities receive no government support for international students. The fees for these students are unregulated and are often higher than those to UK students.

Here’s what we include in the categories on the expenditure chart:

Expenditure chart
Academic Schools and Colleges Academic salaries and related expenditure in the University’s Schools and Colleges, pension contributions, technicians, teaching resources.
Libraries, student and staff support Includes Libraries, Careers Network, Academic Skills, IT Services, Student Welfare, Research Support, International Relations, Chaplaincy, Workplace Wellbeing, People and Organisational Development, Sport and Nursery.
Research Grants Money that we spend using research grants awarded by government and other sources including industry and research charities.
Scholarships & Bursaries Financial support for students, including those from disadvantaged backgrounds as part of our Access and Participation Plan.
Running the campus Includes repairs and maintenance, utilities, cleaning, portering, security.
Administration Includes alumni relations and fundraising, student recruitment, admissions and administration, Finance, HR.
Residences Student residences, catering, conferences.
Other 'Other' costs inc consultancy, commercial services, publications, interest costs.
Funds for reinvestment This is the University’s cash surplus (before accounting adjustments are made). The following section sets out more information on how this is reinvested into our students and our academic activity.

The breakdown of expenditure is based on the University’s annual return to HESA.

Percentages may not add up to 100 due to rounding.

Funds for reinvestment

Infographic showing the University of Birmingham's income, expenditure, and funds for reinvestment.
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In 2019/20 the University received £749m of income, and spent £684m of this to fund our education and research activities. As a result of careful management of the University’s finances, we make a ‘surplus’ each year which is reinvested in new initiatives to enhance our teaching, research and services for students. This was £65m in 2019/20. Examples of initiatives this surplus has funded in recent years include:

  • Appointing significant numbers of new academic staff. We now have more than 8,100 staff supporting nearly 38,000 students.
  • Opening our new Teaching and Learning building to provide contemporary flexible teaching and social study spaces, the Collaborative Teaching Laboratory that provides state-of-the-art equipment and technology for laboratory teaching in STEM subjects across the University, and the School of Engineering, which includes a dedicated student support hub and multiple student study spaces and seminar rooms.
  • Investments in IT to enhance the student experience, including Panopto lecture capture, PebblePad for personal tutoring, and upgrading wi-fi across campus.
  • The University of Birmingham Sport and Fitness centre, and the refurbishment of Tiverton Road pool to create additional gym facilities.

During the Covid pandemic, through careful management of the University’s finances, we have been able to invest in a range of measures to support our students. These have included:

  • Additional welfare support for student mental health and wellbeing, and the introduction of weekly academic tutorial groups during Covid.
  • Investment in additional support including extended welcome and arrival, food packages for students having to self-isolate, online events and activities, and supportive welfare calls.
  • Increasing financial support for students experiencing financial hardship during the Covid-19 pandemic: University investment in this area now totals £10m to provide support living and other costs. This includes:
    • an enhanced Student Support Fund;
    • reimbursement of test to release costs for international students;
    • additional support for the Guild of Students hardship fund, and the new Independent Students Award for students with no access to other family support.

      We have made applying to these funds more straightforward, and promoted them widely to encourage take-up. We have also provided loanable laptops and equipment for students who found themselves struggling with digital access.
  • A variety of Covid-safe social events such as:
    • Lakeside at the Vale – a two week outdoor festival in September 2020 offering an array of street food, an outdoor cinema, carnival games, and mini-golf.
    • The UoBe Festival in January 2021 developed with students and offering over 100 virtual events and activities including masterclasses, the Varsity College Cup, skills development sessions, conversation corners covering issues such as consent, hate crimes and mental health, and social activities.
    • Spring into Summer - a season of outdoor activities and street food in 2021 for students to socialise and engage in games and sports on campus, and a programme of virtual events on topics such as art, sustainability, resilience, and yoga.
    • Graduation celebrations on-campus in summer and autumn 2021 for all 2020 and 2021 graduates.

How is my student fee spent?

The typical student fee (currently £9,250 per year) is spent in the following ways:

Infographic of Old Joe clock tower showing what student fees pay for at the University of Birmingham.
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Here’s what is included in each of these categories.

How is my student fee spent?
IT and Library Includes library running costs, books, subscriptions, Canvas, Wi-Fi, student email, classroom IT and AV.
Student support and campus life Includes Careers Network, student mental health and wellbeing services, disability support, teaching administration, student facilities such as sport.
Scholarships Financial support for students, including those from disadvantaged backgrounds as part of our Access and Participation Plan.
Running the campus Includes repairs and maintenance, utilities, cleaning, portering, security
Teaching Delivery and support of student teaching, including pay and pensions for academic staff (eg lecturers) and technicians, teaching resources and equipment.
Running costs The costs of keeping the University running including student recruitment and admissions, HR, Finance, and alumni relations.

The breakdown of student fee spend is based on our TRAC return. The figures in this graph are only based on teaching income and expenditure, and therefore the percentages differ to the preceding graphs on this page.