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Case studies

The case studies are available to download below:

In March 2014 we published a circular letter and reports on presenting income and expenditure information to current students. This was to encourage greater transparency for students and the wider public about how institutions spend their income.

We asked universities to provide information on their income and expenditure in a way that students could easily understand. We emphasised the importance of dialogue with students to ensure that institutions present information in a way that meets student needs.

Why we encourage financial transparency for students

Our approach was based on a survey of 2,400 current students that showed that there was significant interest in this type of information, but that:

  • of the students who looked for this information, 40 per cent were unable to find it
  • once the information was found, 44 per cent of students reported that the format it was presented in was difficult to understand.

How financial information could be made more transparent

The key areas identified through the research for improving the provision of this financial information were:

  • work with students to identify an approach that suits them
  • to make the information easier to find by positioning it more obviously on institutions’ websites
  • to make the information visually clear
  • to provide a useful but not excessive level of detail
  • to explain technical language.

Future work

We will sample institutions’ web-sites in February 2015 to estimate how widely universities and colleges have adopted an approach that makes financial data accessible and transparent to students.

We are now also working with the Association of Colleges to support colleges with the information they provide.


Further information is available from Pam Macpherson Barrett (