The guidance has been developed by the British Universities Finance Directors Group (BUFDG), GuildHE, HEFCE, NUS and Universities UK. It follows a request from the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills to HEFCE for universities and colleges to publish financial information more effectively.
It draws on findings from recent research [Note 1], including a survey of 2,400 current students which found that there is interest in this type of information but that it was often difficult to find and understand.
The research identifies priorities for improving the presentation of financial information such as accessibility, clear signposting and ensuring technical language is clearly explained, as well as keeping information up to date.
Heather Fry, HEFCE Director (Education, Participation and Students), said:
‘It is important that transparent information is available at the right level of detail. Students and others are increasingly interested in the value for money of their education, and how institutions prioritise their spending. This guidance provides the opportunity for institutions to take a fresh look at this area and is part of a wider programme of work being carried out by HEFCE – in partnership with the higher education sector and other key partners – to ensure the provision of high-quality, clear and accessible information.’
Sarah Pook, Chair of the Financial Information Steering Group and the University of Southampton’s Director of Finance, said:
‘This approach gives institutions the chance to work in partnership with their students to develop an information format that meets local need.’
Higher education providers are being asked to work with student representatives to implement changes to their websites by January 2015.