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Where do your fees go?

Studying at university can seem expensive – how does the University spend your fees, and is it good value for money?

What do you get for your money at The Open University?

Module materials

You'll receive the study materials you need, either online or through the post, and access to an online learning environment to study wherever, and whenever, suits you.

For some courses you'll receive study materials delivered to your door. What you'll receive depends on the module(s) you're studying. Study materials are included in your module fees so there's no hidden cost.

Tutorial support

The OU has a network of more than 4,000 tutors – the largest in the UK. Tutors run face-to-face or online group tutorials and day schools. They also mark assignments, provide detailed written feedback, and offer support to students by telephone, email, or computer conferencing.

Research and scholarship

Open University courses are underpinned by research of international excellence and are subject to rigorous external scrutiny. In addition, a world-leading programme of research into teaching strategies and educational technologies ensures that our materials are effective and appropriate for large-scale open learning.

OU Students Association

As an OU student you’ll automatically be a member of the OU Students Association where you can connect with other students and get support.

Expenditure summary

Your fees go towards a whole range of things that make us the leading university for flexible, innovative and world-leading teaching and research in the United Kingdom and in over 100 countries worldwide.

Here’s a breakdown of how we spend our income (in £m and percentage of total expenditure), made up of student fees and other sources:

Expenditure % of Total (£m)
Academic Faculties and Research 48% (201.5)
External Research Projects 3% (10.8)
Student and Learning Support Services 29% (123.5)
University Premises 7% (28)
Strategic Change Programmes 15% (61.8)

The figures in this table and pie chart reflect the expenditure incurred within the academic year from 1 August 2019 to 31 July 2020. Total expenditure excludes the provision for the deficit for the Universities Superannuation Scheme.

Academic faculties and research

This is the money we spend on academics and their work, including teaching and research. This includes your tutors (also known as associate lecturers).

Access and participation

You can view our latest course fee information which is listed in our Fee Summary document.

Student and learning support services

This funds support for the academic activities of our faculties such as the Student Support Teams – with information, advice and guidance at the end of the phone - Library Services, support to tutors, exams and producing learning materials. This also provides £1.7m of funding for the OU Students Association where you can connect with other students and get support.

University support services

This includes the cost of central university services such as Information Technology (including our systems providing student support and services) and Human Resources.

University premises

The running costs of the University’s estate - the buildings where OU academics and support staff work.

Strategic Change Programme

This relates to the major strategic change programme, which The Open University embarked on in 2017/18, with a clear focus on enhancing student success coupled with the ambition to provide more opportunities for students to benefit from life-changing learning.

For more detailed information please refer to the annual Financial Statements, available on the Freedom of Information website.

Funding to run the OU comes from several sources - the largest of which is tuition fees from UK and international students, find out how the OU is funded.