More details of the fallout from funding cuts at the Higher Education Academy have come to light after it was revealed that the organisation’s International Scholarship awards programme has been scrapped.
On the 2014 programme, for which £140,000 had been budgeted, selected scholars would have spent three to six months visiting international institutions to explore the potential for academic collaboration. Applicants could request a maximum of £20,000 to fund their study.
Nick Pearce, a teaching fellow at the Foundation Centre at Durham University, applied to the scheme in January. He told Times Higher Education that he was disappointed that he was not made aware that the scheme had been scrapped until late in the application process.
“[Applicants] were expecting to hear something in mid-April, but on 24 April I received a letter explaining that due to budgetary pressures, the scheme was being shelved,” he said.
“I had expended a lot of effort in the application process, and it was frustrating to have it pulled so late in the day. The HEA definitely went through the review process, because in July I received the referees’ comments. The decision to pull the plug must have been right at the last minute.”
In 2012, the HEA funded 14 international scholarships, worth more than £192,000 in total, while last year’s scheme saw the award of five scholarships with a total value of about £90,500.
However, earlier this summer, a slimmed-down version of the HEA was outlined by its chief executive, Stephanie Marshall, and it was forced to lay off about 90 of its 180 staff. This followed the news in April that the organisation is to lose all its funding council money by 2017.
“As soon as the HEA’s significant budget cuts were confirmed, potential funding which had not yet been contracted – for example the International Scholarship awards – unfortunately had to be returned to the core HEA budget,” a spokeswoman for the HEA said, adding that the 14 applicants for the 2014 scheme had been informed “as soon as possible” that the programme had been axed.