Confident about risks

November 6, 2008

Contrary to the impression given by the story "Business-facing project 'high risk'" (30 October), the Higher Education Funding Council for England (Hefce) is delighted to be investing in the large-scale employer engagement project led by Middlesex University.

The Hefce board supported the proposal because of the robust business case, the university's excellent track record in work-based learning developed through its Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, and its potentially significant impact both on the university and the regional economy.

We are confident that Middlesex is in a strong position and has the expertise to take this programme forward in an effective and sustainable way.

Employer engagement is of great strategic importance to the Government and Hefce. We are providing £148 million over three years to build capacity and deliver co-funded provision. There are high risks because of the uncertain nature of employer demand, particularly in the current economic climate.

We are confident that our risk-sharing approach in relation to Middlesex and the more than 30 other projects provides an excellent example of the distinctive role we play in maximising the benefits of our funding.

David Eastwood, Chief executive, Higher Education Funding Council for England.

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