Where do design students’ tuition fees go? asks Falmouth University

The university’s latest annual financial report shows that 50% of income for its design departments goes to staff wages, while 10% goes to student equipment and materials.

Courtesy of Izusek

Research from Falmouth University has found that over half of the money allocated for design courses is spent on teaching staff’s wages, while a tenth goes towards equipment and materials.

The university, which focuses on creative subjects and offers courses on subjects including graphic design, architecture, music, theatre, fine art, gaming and journalism, publishes financial figures every academic year.

The most recent report looked at data from 2016-2017 and shows how money is spent in each of its departments.

Half of income goes to academic staff

It shows that the School of Architecture, Design and Interiors (ADI), including courses such as architecture, interior design and sustainable product design, spends 50% on academic staff wages, with an extra 5% spent on technical and management staff. Roughly a tenth – 11% – is spent on materials and equipment, while the remaining 34% is spent on building upkeep and bursaries for students.

The School of Communication Design, which runs courses such as creative advertising, graphic design and communication design, spends 55% on academic staff, with an additional 9% on technical and management staff. A tenth – 10% – is spent on materials and equipment, while the remaining 26% is spent on building upkeep and student bursaries.

Four fifths of income comes from student fees

These funds mostly come from students’ tuition fees, which make up over four fifths – 83% – of income for Falmouth University. Other sources of income include grants from councils, the European Union (EU), research and capital grants, and charges for services that the university runs.

The total income for the School of ADI is £1.4 million, while the total for the School of Communication Design is £2.4 million.

All other academic departments were also looked at in the report, including the Falmouth School of Art, Fashion and Textiles Institute and School of Writing and Journalism.

Tuition fees currently reach £9,250 per year

Design Week has looked at the research after the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) released a report earlier this month analysing where UK students’ tuition fees go, finding that nearly half – 44% – of fees go towards staff, research and teaching. One fifth – 21% – goes towards study resources, while a quarter – 25% – goes towards student support and campus services.

Most students taking university degrees in England, Scotland and Wales currently pay up to £9,250 per year for tuition. In Northern Ireland, the fees go up to £4,160 per year.

Universities should be “visible” about where fees go

Falmouth University is one of few universities to publish details of where its tuition fees and course funding goes, with the majority still not disclosing this information.

Professor Janet Beer, president of Universities UK has recently urged university vice-chancellors to be “more visible on… where student fees go, how we price courses, and to publish value-for-money statements”, according to HEPI.

Design Week will be speaking to design tutors at different universities to gather their thoughts about the spend on creative undergraduate UK courses in the coming weeks.

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