Spending per head at Oxford is unpredictable. The graph on the previous page shows how JCR spending varies dramatically between colleges and PPHs. On top of this, however, students also receive a sum of around £36 per year per head on average from OUSU. C+ wondered how this compared nationally.
Cambridge students, given their familiar JCR support system, find themselves in a similar situation. With Student Union spending of around £561,000 in 2011-2012 according to official CUSU accounts, those at ‘the other place’ can expect around £31 annually per person from their union. Again, variable JCR spending means the amount each student has spent on them in total will vary.
At fellow collegiate university Durham, individual students get a much larger £108 every year, with Durham Students’ Union (DSU) spending £1,771,495 in total in the academic year 2012-2013 according to officially published accounts. It is worth noting, however, that DSU has a much more active presence in Durham than OUSU and CUSU do at their respective universities, with JCRs carrying much less of the financial burden.
When it comes to non-collegiate universities, students also seem, on the whole, to be benefitting from more student union spending than Oxbridge. Freedom of Information requests reveal that the University of Sunderland Student Union spent around £20,000 less than the £1,500,000 raised in 2013. As a result, around £87 per head is spent on students every year, more than at many Oxford colleges — OUSU contributions included.
Lancaster University Student Union’s (LUSU) figures show officers had £8,390,000 to spend on students in the academic year between 2013 and 2014, meaning that £670 is spent per head. It should be noted, however, that LUSU plays a significant role in providing accommodation for students, explaining the much higher spending — and income. London universities also spend more than Oxford. The body representing King’s College London students, for example, spends almost £139 per person, according to publicly available statistics 2013/2014.
Whilst the combined annual spending on an Oxford student is likely to be lower than the spending of student unions at other universities, Oxford students gain financially in other ways. More generous bursaries, accommodation that is cheaper and often guaranteed for the duration of their course, and reasonable food are all advantages which make up for lower JCR and OUSU spending.