Universities and colleges struggling to fill science and engineering courses may be able to avoid funding penalties for under-recruitment.
The Higher Education Funding Council for England has decided to give institutions that have missed their recruitment targets in these areas a second chance to increase their student numbers.
The council has agreed that institutions should be allowed to retain part or all of the science and engineering numbers as well as the funding for next year that they would otherwise have lost due to the grant holdback penalty for failing to meet recruitment goals.
But they have been warned that should they miss their targets again in 1996/97 funded numbers will be permanently withdrawn.
The move follows a steer in the Budget statement letter to the council last year from the Department for Education and Employment that extra support should be given to recruitment for science and engineering courses. In 1994/95, applications from within the United Kingdom for places on engineering, technology and science degrees accounted for less than a quarter of applications. Figures for this academic year are not yet available, but the council says some institutions are still failing to meet recruitment targets in these subject areas.
The council has also decided to use holdback money arising from under- recruitment in other areas to fund more science and technology students for next year.
Out of the Pounds 3,146 million for recurrent funding, the council has allocated Pounds 2,226 million for teaching, Pounds 636 million for research, Pounds 269 million for non-formula funding, Pounds 5 million for the safety net, leaving Pounds 10 million for its "flexibility margin". Research funding is the same in cash terms as this year, with Pounds 600 million for quality research, Pounds 20 million for generic research and Pounds 16 million for development research.