Most higher education courses provided by further education colleges will be funded at the same level as university courses, the Higher Education Funding Council for England said this week.
But HEFCE is looking at whether to give arts and design and engineering courses less cash than universities. HEFCE takes responsibility for funding all degrees, Higher National Certificates and Higher National Diplomas from the Further Education Funding Council in 1999-2000.
Most higher education students in FE funded by HEFCE are doing a HND in business or a degree in business studies.
The cost of providing these courses in colleges is about the same as in universities, according to a study by accountants KPMG published in September. Therefore both types of institution will be funded at a similar level for these courses, HEFCE announced this week. But engineering and art and design are more expensive in universities.
"We will extend the study to review further the provision described as 'science and engineering' in the FEFC's funding, to establish the appropriate level of grant under our funding method," stated a Hefce consultation document out this week.
The review will also investigate the relative costs of Higher National Certificate programmes. In a separate study, HEFCE plans to examine differences between the costs of degree and sub-degree programmes, irrespective of the types of institution offering them. It could then adjust course funding appropriately.
Finally Hefce will look at the effect that its funding methods could have on smaller further education colleges.