Capital funds follow places to FE colleges

Some capital funding for universities is being reallocated to further education colleges as a result of the government's core-and-margin system.

April 12, 2012

Sir Alan Langlands, chief executive of the Higher Education Funding Council for England, detailed a small "transfer of funding" in his report to an 8 March meeting of Hefce's board, which was recently published for the first time.

The core-and-margin system shifts student places to further education colleges and to universities that charge average tuition fees of £7,500 or less. For 2012-13, colleges have won 10,354 places from a pool of about 20,000 margin places formed mainly by deducting them from universities. Of the 155 further education colleges to win places, 65 are institutions that were not previously funded by Hefce.

The system has been criticised for transferring an unknown number of places away from honours degree-level qualifications to lower-level ones at further education colleges.

In his report, Sir Alan outlines developments in Hefce's Teaching Capital Investment Fund (TCIF).

After Hefce received its annual grant letter from the government in January, its board agreed to increase TCIF funding for 2012-13 from £49 million to £52.5 million.

"On 15 February 2012, the chief executive approved a transfer of funding of £213,000 from the £4 million additional 2012-13 TCIF budget agreed by the [Hefce] board in January to capital allocations for directly funded FECs," Sir Alan's report says.

"This is to provide teaching capital for the eight months from August 2012 for the 65 new FECs that were awarded numbers through the core/margin exercise. The final individual allocations will be calculated in due course."

The government has not stated whether the margin pool will increase beyond 20,000 in 2012-13.

However, last year's higher education White Paper stated that "arrangements for 2012-13 will be a starting point and we want the size of the margin to grow steadily in future years to create greater dynamism in the allocation of places" - meaning that the transfer of capital funding to colleges is likely to grow.

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