Elite few dominate in funding expansion

March 3, 2000

Funding allocations, full details, pages I-IV Large, research-led universities will take the lion's share of extra students enrolling next year as part of the expansion of higher education.

In his annual letter to the funding council, dated November 1999, education secretary David Blunkett states: "Many of these additional numbers are expected to be at sub-degree level and delivered through further education colleges."

Universities and higher education colleges appear to have captured most of the available expansion, however, probably due to their size. The funding council allocated additional places to reward high quality in learning and teaching and widen access to higher education.

The funding council declined to release the names of institutions to which it has offered extra student places until the places have been accepted or rejected in the next few weeks. However, many traditional universities have an increase in their allocation for additional funded places, announced this week.

Ranking institutions by the extra teaching funding would give a table in which eight of the top ten are pre-1992 universities. Six belong to the Russell Group or the 94 Group of research-led universities.

The Open University tops the list with Pounds 3.8 million. Next is the University of Bath with Pounds 2.2 million, enough for 730 extra students. The University of Birmingham has funding for about 600 more students. Imperial College and the universities of Exeter, Leeds and Manchester each get more than 450 additional places.

Other big winners include Canterbury Christ Church University College, the University of Plymouth and the University of Hull. In all, 180 institutions have been offered funding for extra places.

The funding allocations announced this week confirm that institutions will get a 3 per cent increase in cash terms for the next academic year, representing an increase of 0.5 per cent after inflation. Funding includes the extra student places, however.

Four English universities will rake in more than Pounds 100 million each from the funding council.

More than Pounds 138 million in teaching and research grants will go to the OU. Part of the funding is likely to be transferred to the Scottish funding council to pay for OU students in Scotland.

Other big winners include the University of Oxford (total grant Pounds 124 million), the University of Cambridge (Pounds 120 million) and University College, London (Pounds 115 million).

Further public money will come through research council grants and tuition fees paid by local education authorities. Private income from contract research and postgraduate and overseas tuition fees is not included in the figures quoted above.

No institution should get a funding cut of more than 2 per cent in real terms, the funding council said. However there are some exceptions. The troubled Thames Valley University faces an 11.3 per cent cut in teaching and research funding for next year even though it will receive Pounds 430,000 for teaching extra students next year, enough for some 140 students.

The largest teaching grant will go to the OU, followed by other big teaching institutions. Manchester Metropolitan University and the universities of Leeds, Manchester and Birmingham, plus King's College London and University College, London, each get more than Pounds 50 million. Next come the universities of Cambridge and Oxford.

London-based institutions get extra money to cover the expense of being based in the capital. Oxford and Cambridge receive a premium for their old and historic buildings.

Research funds remain concentrated in a few elite institutions. The University of Oxford tops the table with Pounds 63 million. Three others get more than Pounds 50 million: University College, London; the University of Cambridge; and Imperial College, London. Together, the four institutions got almost a third of the funding council research grant.

The ten institutions that got the highest research grants took half the research money. The pre-1992 universities dominate research to the point that the new university that won the highest research grant - the University of Portsmouth - came 48th in the table. Its Pounds 3.7 million grant is worth less than 6 per cent of the University of Oxford's.

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