WORLD-class higher education needs investment on the scale envisaged by Dearing, funding chief Brian Fender told delegates to his council's annual conference this week.
"Universities and colleges can do the business," he said. "But only if the current comprehensive spending review properly recognises the relatively small cost of student loans in the long run and is determined that British education should be world class at all levels."
The dire state of university buildings was clear from a Pounds 35 million-a-year funding council scheme for poor estates, which attracted Pounds 300 million of bids from nearly all institutions.
Bids showed more than half of the estate in 31 institutions would need major repairs or replacement soon or was already unusable, with new universities suffering the worst problems.
Another Pounds 35 million-a-year initiative for laboratory refurbishment attracted about Pounds 80 million worth of bids. Most successfully screened by the research councils are likely to receive funding.
Professor Fender said two research initiatives would be announced shortly: an arts and humanities research board as "a staging post to a research council" and a teaching and learning research committee. HEFCE would fund but not manage both.