Universities and colleges have become less reliant on the funding councils for money.
Some 38 per cent of English institutions' income came from the Higher Education Funding Council for England in 1997-98. Two years earlier, the figure was 41 per cent, according to HEFCE. The shift predated the introduction of tuition fees.
The London Business School was the least reliant on the public purse, with just 7 per cent of its income coming from the funding council.
At the other end of the university scale was London Guildhall University with 61 per cent. Wimbledon School of Art relies on the funding council for 69 per cent of its income.
Just two universities - De Montfort and Manchester Metropolitan - saw an increase in reliance on the funding council between 1995 and 1997.
In total, 24 of 88 universities received a third or less of their incomes from the funding council. Four other institutions, including the Royal College of Nursing Institute, fell into this category.
Universities must further free themselves from government
for the country to grasp the opportunities of the knowledge economy, according to David Potter, chairman of Psion and a HEFCE board member.
"We use the word diversity to acknowledge the differing roles of the universities. But this is a fantasy as the same controls and expenditures are imposed on all. I believe the universities must seek wider sources of funds and pursue independent missions according to their assets and competencies," he said.
The total number of students in higher education in England increased by 6 per cent over two years to 1.5 million in 1997. This figure includes both full time and part-time study.
At the same time, the total
academic staff, including researchers, fell by 1.3 per cent. This figure is a full-time equivalent.
HEFCE figures also showed how universities and colleges have greatly improved their performance in teaching quality assessments.
Between April 1995 and June 1999, 51 per cent of assessments were rated as excellent. Two years earlier, the figure stood at 43 per cent.