The University has calculated the total cost per year to educate each of its undergraduates.

What is the cost of a home undergraduate education at Cambridge?

The annual cost per student, as calculated based on 2012/13 figures, is 16.6k.

University expenditure per student on Home/EU Undergraduate teaching £9,200
College expenditure per student on Home/EU Undergraduate teaching £7,400
Cost per Home/EU Undergraduate in full time education (including College costs) £16.600

Why are there two sets of costs?

The Colleges and University co-operate in ensuring that undergraduates receive an education of the highest quality. The Colleges accept primary responsibility for admissions, the direction of studies and small-group teaching of their students, whereas the University provides lectures, coursework, and examinations.

College costs include the costs of teaching, tutorial support, admissions, scholarships and awards and other educational facilities met by the Colleges. Other services provided by the Colleges, including accommodation, sporting and social facilities, are excluded from these calculations which concentrate exclusively on the cost of education.

How is this calculated?

The University calculates the cost of home undergrad teaching by removing from overall University expenditure the costs of University Press and Cambridge Assessment, catering, conferences and other services, research costs and the cost of teaching postgrads and overseas students. An adjustment is also added to represent the cost of capital and to reflect the long-term cost of maintaining the estate.  The cost per student is then calculated by dividing this total by the number of home undergraduate students.

Teaching costs incurred by the Cambridge Colleges (minus the fee paid by the Colleges to the University to avoid double counting) are then added in. This is to reflect the fact that responsibility for undergraduate education is shared between the University and Colleges.

How accurate are these calculations?

The model for calculating the cost of an undergraduate education at Cambridge uses data from published sources, from TRAC – a Government implemented costing system on whose methodology the model is based – and the Cambridge Colleges. The method is kept under review by the University’s Planning and Resources Committee. The outcome is an average and not representative of actual costs for any particular student or course.

Do the costs include food, drink and other catering costs?

No. The calculations for the cost of an undergraduate education concentrate exclusively on the education costs.  The cost of catering is explicitly excluded.

Do the costs factor in the value of Cambridge’s world class research?

Teaching in Cambridge is delivered in a research intensive background, which clearly adds significant value to an undergraduate education at the University.
However, the contribution world leading research makes to teaching – in both the University and the Colleges – is not separately costed, and so is not included in these calculations.

What is TRAC?

The Transparent Approach to Costing (TRAC) is an activity based costing system that allows reported expenditure to take account of the full economic cost. TRAC was originally developed to derive indirect cost rates to be used in research grant applications to the Research Councils.

TRAC information is reported to The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) annually.

Is the cost the same for Overseas students?

The basic cost of teaching an Overseas student is the same but there are different additional support costs and a high level of spending on bursaries and scholarships through the Cambridge Trust, for example.

Is the calculation changing?

The basis of the current calculation was established three years ago and it has not been changed since.  The cost itself is recalculated every year based on the latest available data and published in the University Reporter at the same time as our fee rates.  In 2010-11 it was £14,800 and in 2011-12 it was £15,100. Home/EU fees have not changed during that period, hence the gap is widening.

Is the University of Cambridge calling for higher fees?

The University recognises that the responsibility for undergraduate education is shared between the student, the government and the University and it is appropriate that some of the cost should be covered from the University’s own endowment.  Whatever the funding situation, the University will continue to deliver needs-blind admission on academic merit alone. 
However, the University also relies on its endowment to contribute to the costs of its world-class research, especially supporting our charity funded work which does not pay overheads but which makes such a vital contribution across a range of global issues. The University has no set view on what future fee levels should be, but the increasing shortfall in meeting the cost of an undergraduate education is already affecting our ability to sustain our world-class research activity.