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This webpage provides high-level information about tuition fee income in the context of the University's total income from various sources and explains how the University and Colleges collectively spend the income from education activities to support the University and Colleges' missions. The University financial data on this page covers financial position of the core teaching and research activities of the University (referred to as the ‘Academic University’ in the published financial statements) but excludes the associated bodies, such as Cambridge University Press, Cambridge Assessment and Cambridge Trusts.

Where does the University get its income from?

The Academic University is funded from a wide range of sources, including tuition fees, government funding body grants, research grants and contracts, donations, and self-generated income through commercial activities. The proportion of tuition fee income in Cambridge was 21.6% in 2018-19, which is significantly lower than the sector average. 



How is income for education activities spent?

Tuition fees and the Office for Students (OfS) teaching grant are the two main sources of income for education activities. Both sources contribute to the costs of educational and pastoral provision but are treated as general unrestricted income and are pooled into a central fund, known as 'the “Chest'. A share of the fee income for all matriculated postgraduate students and full-time Home undergraduate students is transferred to the Colleges - they supplement it with other sources of income to fund Colleges' spend on educational activities. Otherwise fee income is not divided or earmarked for a particular purpose.

Education expenditure funded from the Chest (including the fee income and teaching funding grant credited to it) include the salary costs of academic and other staff, the cost of academic services (libraries, museums, computing), bursary and scholarship provision, student services (sport facilities, careers services, counselling), central administrative support for students, as well as the running costs and maintenance of the teaching estate.

The total education spend from sources such as tuition fee income and OfS teaching grant can be approtioned to various activities, using the methodology of the annual Transparent Approach to Costing (TRAC) return to Office for Students. The break-down of this spending by activity is shown below (tip: you can see more detailed information if you hover on each bar in the chart)


Is there a funding gap for full-time Home undergraduate students?

The University, in partnership with the Colleges, provides an exceptional level of support to the brightest of students and provides a very broad range of subjects. There are additional costs attached to the depth and breadth of provision, however OfS funds full-time Home undergraduates in all universities at the same rate and the tuition fee for these students is regulated by the government.

Thus, the two main sources of income that support education activities are not enough to cover the total expenditure on the undergraduate education at the University of Cambridge, resulting in a funding gap. Due to their diverse mix of funding sources, the University and Colleges can use surplus from other sources of income to support education expenditure.

The size of the funding gap for Home undergraduate students is calculated in the annual refresh of the cost of an undergraduate education model, the details of which are available here.

A further qualitative description of what the Colleges fees are spent on can be found on the following website: