England's richest university will have an income per student more than 12 times greater than that of the country's poorest institution.
The funding allocations, announced yesterday by the Higher Education Funding Council for England, also revealed that the large, research-led universities will take the lion's share of the extra students enrolling next year. Six of the ten institutions with the biggest income for additional places belong to either the Russell Group or the 94 Group.
Overall, the sector will experience a real-terms cut in Hefce funding of 1 per cent. The cash increase of 3 per cent amounts to a reduction once inflation and the expansion of student numbers are taken into account.
Sir Brian Fender, chief executive of Hefce, said: "The basic recurrent funding position is less satisfactory. An average cash increase of only 1.5 per cent in the unit of resource, following cuts earlier in the 1990s, will pose difficulties for institutions, particularly in recruiting and rewarding staff."
The THES used the funding allocation, along with undergraduate tuition fees and external research income, to make a rough calculation of the income per student across English institutions.
Cranfield University has an income per full-time equivalent student of more than Pounds 30,000. The universities of Oxford and Cambridge, and Imperial College, University College London and King's College, London, all rake in more than Pounds 10,000 per student. Funding council grants account for no more than 30 per cent of income at these institutions.
At the other end of the scale, income per higher education student at Blackburn College - which has 1,280 students - is Pounds 2,420 per person. Of the UK's universities, the most financially pinched is Thames Valley, with an income of Pounds 3,124 per student, followed by Luton with an income of Pounds 3,9.
Even this may understate the gap because The THES figures exclude money from the research councils and UK charities, the tuition fees paid by students from outside the European Union and postgraduate fees. This money, which is likely to go mainly to the research-led universities, can double an institution's income.
Imperial College makes the most money from external research. The college generated more than Pounds 51 million in external research contracts, excluding work funded by the research councils and UK charities.
Some of the richest institutions are among those that will be affected by the real-terms funding cut next year. The London Business School and the London School of Economics will each face a 2 per cent cut.
The reduction will serve to make them even less reliant on the public purse: only 9 per cent of LBS's money came from the funding council in 1997, while the figure for LSE was about 23 per cent.
Aside from Thames Valley University, only two institutions will receive a cut in cash terms for the next academic year. The Institute of Education and Homerton College both failed to recruit enough students last year and funding has been withheld as a result.