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HEFCE commissioned Deloitte LLP at the end of 2016 to gather evidence on the geographic variation in relative costs and benefits for higher education providers of operating in England. The objectives of the study was to provide evidence on:

  • The variation in relative costs for Higher education providers (HEPs) associated with operating in different geographic areas of England.
  • The benefits derived by HEPs operating in different geographic areas of England.
  • The regional drivers of costs and benefits, including the extent to which any such variations differ according to the activities and characteristics of institutions.
  • The approaches taken by other public funders in determining and contributing to any additional costs associated with operating in London and other geographic areas.

The results of the analysis suggested that:

  • Average academic staff costs in HEPs vary significantly across English regions, in particular between inner London and the rest of the country.
  • HEPs’ non-academic staff costs were also found to vary significantly across England. Using data from the Office for National Statistics’ Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings, it was found that the regional variation of HEPs’ non-academic staff costs exhibit a similar pattern as the regional variation in academic staff costs.
  • Land and building costs vary significantly across England. Land and building costs in inner London are more than three times the national average. Outer London and the South East also have land and building costs that are above the average.
  • After controlling for perceived reputation and quality, it was found that the number of international and postgraduate students enrolled varies considerably across the country. Student enrolments for international and postgraduate students were found to be significantly higher than average in inner London, and considerably lower in the North and Midlands.

The report was commissioned to improve the broad evidence base relating to institutional costs. Any use of the report in informing future funding decisions will be for the Office for Students and UK Research and Innovation to consider in due course.