Hefce brings the pain: cuts this year and next

Universities in England face a £180 million, 4 per cent cut to their teaching grant in the next academic year, along with additional cuts this year.

February 3, 2011

The Higher Education Funding Council for England announced yesterday its funding allocations for 2011-12, in response to December’s grant letter from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

There will be a £6.5 billion allocation for the 2011-12 academic year – the year before universities can begin to recoup lost public income through higher tuition fees – which represents a 9.5 per cent cut from 2010-11.

Compared with previously announced totals for this academic year, the teaching grant has been cut by 4 per cent, research by 1.1 per cent and capital funding by 58 per cent.

But the government grant letter, which relates to the 2011-12 financial year, also affects funding for the final four months of the 2010-11 academic year.

Funding chiefs have decided that funding this year will be reduced by £162 million for teaching and £.6 million for research, cuts of 3.5 per cent and 1.7 per cent respectively.

Hefce’s circular letter on funding to institutions also reveals further details about moves to increase research concentration.

Sir Alan Langlands, Hefce’s chief executive, called the settlement “challenging”, adding: “We are attempting as far as possible to support a smooth transition for all institutions to the new student finance and funding arrangements that will take effect in 2012-13.”

But Paul Marshall, chief executive of the 1994 Group of smaller research-intensive universities, said: “It’s becoming increasingly clear that the cuts are likely to bring about a rough ride for the UK economy…The 1994 Group calls on the government to come forward with a plan for growth that fully supports university research and the benefits it brings to the UK economy.”

Pam Tatlow, chief executive of the Million+ group of new universities, said: “Figures like these call into question the coalition’s insistence that it values teaching and its understanding of the vital economic role played by our universities.”

David Willetts, the universities and science minister, said the government had asked Hefce “to protect the teaching funding budget as far as possible” during the transition to the new fees regime.

But Gareth Thomas, the Labour shadow universities minister, said cuts to teaching and capital funding and the move to higher fees were “unfair, unnecessary and unsustainable”.

john.morgan@tsleducation.com

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