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 – From our latest print edition –

A Freedom of Information request conducted by Epigram proves what has been suspected for a long time: arts students at Bristol University are subsidising more expensive degrees.

Around half of the £9,000 that most arts students pay in tuition fees each year is reallocated to other departments.

Most of these departments are in the Faculty of Science and Faculty of Medical & Veterinary Sciences.

Of the £9000 that Bristol undergraduates pay per year, the University only spends £3,347.14 on each student, with much of the rest going on subsidising degree programmes which are more expensive to run.

And History students each have just £4247.95 spent on them.

Such evidence shows that arts students’ tuition fees are used to compensate for losses made by departments that offer more expensive degrees, such as Dentistry, Chemistry and Veterinary Sciences, which spend between three and four times as much per student.

Arts students contribute an annual net profit of over £10 million towards the University, which is used to subsidise departments such as Dentistry, Veterinary Science, Chemistry and Physics, which make losses.

The government’s trebling of tuition fees saw a large subsidy – in some cases up to £6000 per undergraduate each year – removed, with students expected to make up the shortfall.

Related Article: Students must stand together in funding debate

Epigram’s findings compare the £9000 figure to how much is actually spent on them, which varies significantly between departments. The figures for Medicine were not included in the list provided.

Overall loss or gain per student from £9000 base No. of students enrolled 2014-15 Total department expenditure
Academic departments
102 Clinical dentistry £7,287.32 355 £5,782,000.00
113 Chemistry £4,436.27 612 £8,223,000.00
109 Veterinary science £3,417.33 750 £9,313,000.00
114 Physics £3,350.78 516 £6,373,000.00
119 Electrical, electronic & computer engineering £419.64 336 £3,165,000.00
120 Mechanical, aero & production engineering -£157.89 741 £6,552,000.00
122 Mathematics -£488.34 729 £6,205,000.00
144 Music, dance, drama & performing arts -£1,169.49 354 £2,772,000.00
141 Philosophy -£1,488.10 168 £1,262,000.00
132 Sociology -£1,866.67 165 £1,177,000.00
137 Modern languages -£2,364.11 964 £6,397,000.00
104 Psychology & behavioural sciences -£2,620.00 450 £2,871,000.00
118 Civil engineering -£3,134.26 432 £2,534,000.00
142 Theology & religious studies -£3,385.96 114 £640,000.00
140 Classics -£4,225.68 257 £1,227,000.00
139 History -£4,752.05 609 £2,587,000.00
138 English language & literature -£5,652.86 507 £1,697,000.00

Reacting to the statistics obtained by Epigram which show how a small a proportion of most arts students’ fees are spent within their department, George Hosegood, a third year Economics student, told Epigram:

‘I think that most people already suspect that arts students’ money goes elsewhere, but I didn’t realise the extent of it. It’s actually quite shocking.’

Arts students’ tuition fees are used to compensate for losses made by more expensive degrees

Millie Morris, a third year English student, also commented on the figures: ‘It seems utterly unfair that on top of the fact that only a small portion of our fees is actually spent on our degree, we have to buy endless amounts of books for our course and cover printing fees out of our own pocket.

‘Surely some of the money we’ll have to pay back in years to come could have been used for subject-based facilities?’

Of all the data provided by Bristol University, the degree which costs the University the most per student is Dentistry.

As well as having all of their £9,000 tuition fees spent on them, Dentists receive a further £7,287.32 per student.

Whilst £16,287 is spent per Dentist in total, the University only spends £3,347.20 on each English student.

£5,652.80 of the £9,000 that English students contribute each year is not spent on their degree programme.

Do you think arts students should have to pay for others to study science degrees while much less is spent on them? Share your opinion below or join us on social media:

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