Student finance

What your tuition fees cover

By Marie Kemplay (Researcher, Which? Money) - 14 August 2012

Source: Birmingham City University

If you’re going to be paying up to £9,000 a year in tuition fees when you go to uni, you’re probably wondering exactly what it covers. Just because you’re footing a bigger bill than previous students doesn’t automatically mean you’ll get more for your money.

Your tuition fees will cover all the things your university should reasonably provide to enable you to complete your degree. But what exactly does that include?

Plus, find out what extra costs you'll need to budget for... 

Lectures, seminars and tutorials

The amount and mix of contact time you can expect with lecturers and tutors will vary from course to course. Some courses, such as medicine, will involve intensive all-day teaching and a full weekly timetable, whereas some courses such as English or history will often have around six to eight hours teaching time a week and an emphasis on lots of independent reading and study.

Whereas a lecture may be packed with a couple of hundred students, seminars and tutorial sessions are in much smaller groups and allow you to more readily ask questions and get involved in discussions.

You’ll also be assigned a personal tutor from your department, and usually have some one-to-one appointments to discuss your academic progress.

Access to university library

Pay a visit to a university’s library (or libraries) when you’re at an open day, as you might end up spending a lot of study time there, particularly during exam season. It’s also worth asking how much is available online, to download or print off.

Access to computer facilities

You’ll be most likely submitting essays and coursework online through your university or college’s intranet, and writing and researching on a computer, so access to computer facilities always comes in handy (even if you do have your own tablet or laptop). On an open day, ask where computer facilities are based (are they near, in or miles from your halls of residence, in the library, in a separate building?) and what hours they’re open. You may thank yourself for it later when you’re on a tight deadline.

University support services

Your university will also be on hand to offer help and support when you need it, assisting with things like finding suitable accommodation, offering professional careers guidance or welfare if you’re in financial difficulty. It’s worth making the most of these resources to take advantage of local connections your university has with business, charities, recommended landlords and so on.

Membership of a students’ union

As well as all the fun stuff like providing a cheap place to drink and great clubs and societies, students’ unions exist to fight your corner and make sure universities listen to the views of their students. Your tuition fees may also cover membership and access to union or university-run sports facilities.

Admin stuff

Your tuition fees also cover all the administrative paperwork you’re probably used to taking for granted at school or college – things like registration on the course, entrance to exams and even your graduation (you’ll need to pay for graduation robes and photo separately, though).
 

 

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