CVCP seeks cash for efficiency

May 22, 1998

UNIVERSITY chiefs met the Treasury this week to back calls for cash in the spending review with details on value for money provided by an efficient higher education sector.

A team from the Committee of Vice- Chancellors and Principals met chief Treasury secretary Alistair Darling on Tuesday to push the case for improved funding for higher education in the comprehensive spending review due to be published in July.

Papers in the hands of The THES show the CVCP's four main aims. They included being able to demonstrate to the Treasury universities' efficiency with their current budgets and to demonstrate any value for money CSR investment would bring.

The committee was also keen to make the case for quality, which the government sees as important given that students will be paying a share of tuition costs from this autumn. It believes that a strong CVCP case will help determine the overall level of settlement for higher education and would counteract the consequences of possible Treasury moves to target packages of funding for access and research.

Committee officials had been briefed in their approach to the Treasury by an earlier meeting with the prime minister's policy unit. At the May 7 meeting the No 10 policy unit advised the committee to be more specific about its demands.

A note of the May 7 meeting says: "We were encouraged to demonstrate the sector's efficiency ie regarding the money we are getting. We need to focus even more clearly our arguments on key priorities for funding - exactly what money we are bidding for and, in policy terms, why."

The memo reveals that the CVCP regards the No 10 policy unit as its best "channel of influence" over the next five years to counter the Treasury cost-cutting agenda.

CVCP chief executive Diana Warwick declined to comment on the meeting with Mr Darling, saying that discussions were politically sensitive and that she had given an undertaking not to reveal details of the meetings.

* FE funding bid, back page

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