Magazine article Times Higher Education

Universities Lack Appetite for Course Costs 'Pie Chart': News

Magazine article Times Higher Education

Universities Lack Appetite for Course Costs 'Pie Chart': News

Article excerpt

Full disclosure could break competition law, conference hears. David Matthews reports.

Giving students a course-by-course breakdown of how their tuition fees are spent would "probably (be) illegal" because of competition laws, according to the deputy chief executive of the Higher Education Funding Council for England.

David Willetts, the universities and science minister, has said that he would like to see universities provide students with a "pie chart" breaking down where their fees go.

But Steve Egan told a conference in London on 15 May organised by the Westminster Education Forum that he did not think this would be possible because it "raises important competition issues".

"The students themselves do not want cost information course by course. What they want to know is how much they are going to pay," he told the event, titled Higher Education Finances - TRAC Reporting, Shared Services and Diversifying Income Streams.

After a review and consultation, Hefce announced in April that it would not release Transparent Approach to Costing (Trac) data - information on how academics spend their time, which is one way of calculating a breakdown of fee expenditure - either at an institution or course level.

The council said there was "no evidence" of demand for this information from students.

This would not be the first time that competition law has thwarted attempts to release information to students. In February, Ucas decided to withhold data on this year's applications to individual institutions for reasons of commercial confidentiality. …

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