How UCL uses tuition fees

In 2017-18, UCL earned £1,405m and spent a total of £1,292m. See below how much of UCL’s income comes from tuition fees, and how that income is used to ensure the best possible student experience.


Tuition fees makes up around 37% of total income

The income from tuition fees is the largest source of income for UCL, although it only makes up around 37% of the total income. The rest of the income comes from research grants at 34%, government funding, and other sources which include things such as rent for UCL accommodation, donations and income from investments.

Largest spend is on academic departments

The largest spend is on academic departments at 42% of the total spend, and around 70% of these costs represent the salary costs of academic and administrative support staff.

High level of research grant income

The expenditure on research grants, which represents 31% of the total spend, is covered by the research grant income, at 34% of the total income. UCL competes with other universities for these research grants, and so the high level of research grant income indicates the world-class quality of UCL’s research. This directly impacts the quality of UCL’s teaching and is one of the reasons why employers value UCL graduates.

Expenditure on teaching

The term tuition fees is misleading because the fees are used not only to pay for top quality academic staff but also to provide all the other academic and student services that students use, such as the library, IT facilities, advisory and welfare services, teaching support, and sports facilities as well as the running costs for the buildings in which these services are located. View the chart and access the report for a full breakdown. 


Frequently Asked Questions

Why doesn’t UCL spend all its income?

UCL, like other universities in the UK, is a charity so has no shareholders or owners to which it has to pay out money. Instead, all the surplus of income over expenditure is re-invested so that it pays for new buildings, refurbish older buildings, excellent academics and improved student services.

So am I paying for new buildings which will only be completed after I have graduated?

Yes, to some extent. Some of the money being spent on new buildings is in fact coming from bank loans, but of course current students are enjoying the benefits of building improvements, such as those to the Wilkins building, which were partly financed by fees paid by past students.  

Are my fees good value?

UCL maintains an excellent record for job outcomes and has once again been ranked in the top 4% of institutions in the world for employability. And of course there are benefits from a UCL education which cannot be quantified in purely financial terms, such as the opportunities offered for volunteering, entrepreneurship, personal development and global awareness.

How are the fees set?

Fees for UK and EU undergraduate and initial teacher training students are set by the UK Government. The fee for 2017-18 new starters was set at £9,250. This remains fixed for 2018-19. The Government is currently undertaking a review of funding on the funding of post-18 education but the conclusions from this will not have any impact until 2020-21 at the earliest.

The fee status of EU students may be subject to review once the UK leaves the European Union, though the government confirmed in July 2018 that students from the EU starting courses in England in the 2019-20 academic year will continue to be eligible for home fee status.

UCL itself sets fees for international UG students, and for all postgraduate taught and research students. These fees are reviewed annually, taking into account the level of demand, the fees charged by UCL’s nearest competitors, and the costs of teaching. For example, postgraduate taught course fees are usually higher than those for undergraduate students, as the academic year for these programmes are longer.

Why are international students charged so much more than UK and EU students?

The Government provides funds for some of the teaching costs for UK and EU students, particularly in respect of those subjects, such as sciences and medicine, which require laboratories and special equipment. Also UCL provides extra regulatory and support services for international students, for example help with immigration.