What your tuition fees cover
If you’re going to be paying up to (or even just over) £9,000 a year in tuition fees, what exactly are you getting for your money?
Firstly, unfortunately, just because you’re footing a bigger bill than previous students doesn’t automatically mean you’ll get more for your money. But that’s not to say your money is just going down the drain.
Alternatively, what won't your tuition fees cover?
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? Read on for a run-down.
Seminars, tutorials and lectures
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. Depending on your course, you may spend time in labs or other practical environments.
You’ll also be assigned a personal tutor from your department, and usually have some one-to-one appointments to discuss your academic progress, upcoming assignments etc.
The amount of tuition fee you’ll pay doesn’t differ from course to course, but you might find the amount of contact time you can expect with lecturers and tutors will vary.
Some courses, such as medicine, will involve intensive all-day teaching and a full weekly timetable, whereas other courses, such as English or history, may have around six to eight hours teaching time a week and an emphasis on lots of independent reading and study.
How did students rate their university? Search for a university to read their comments.
What facilities are included in your tuition fee?
Your tuition fee also includes access to some key services and facilities you’ll find useful throughout your university course. Make sure you familiarise yourself with these.
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 and deadline season). Ask about materials they have that are relevant to your course.
It’s also worth asking how much is available online to download or print off.
You’ll most likely submit assignments and coursework online through your university or college’s intranet. While you'll probably have your own laptop to write and research these, access to computer and printing facilities can always come in handy if you suffer a technical headache (eg your flatmates have used all the ink in your printer).
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. If you're visiting when current students are around, look out for any long queues; this might indicate that there aren't enough facilities to cater for students.
You may thank yourself for it later when you’re on a tight deadline.
Student 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 help if you’re in financial difficulty. You may be surprised by how well connected your university is with local businesses, charities, organisations and so on.
So you're far from alone – make the most of these if you need them.
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.
Learn more about what your student union can do for you.
Which universities did student rate top for their student union?
Your tuition fees also cover all the administrative paperwork and organisation that goes on behind-the-scenes. This may include registration for your course, entrance to exams and even your graduation (you’ll need to pay for graduation robes and photo separately, though).