Hefce’s over-recruitment sanctions remain in force

Despite loss of teaching grant, universities must still comply with enrolment targets

June 6, 2013

England’s funding council is still planning to punish universities that recruit too many students by cutting their grant, despite the fact that institutions no longer receive teaching funds from the council for the majority of new students.

From next year, universities must also prove compliance with the research integrity concordat in return for research grant.

The plans are contained in the Higher Education Funding Council for England’s consultation on 2013-14 funding arrangements. This includes a draft of a funding agreement that is part of the financial memorandum - the contract between Hefce and universities.

While Hefce was able to use the withdrawal of grant as a sanction against universities in the past, the government’s failure to introduce a higher education bill means that, as yet, Hefce has no official power over the billions of pounds in public-backed funding being routed via the student loans system. Hefce is therefore having to draw up a new financial memorandum without legislation.

“The council will seek to implement grant reductions for any recruitment in excess of the 2013-14 student number control allocation plus the additional [3 per cent] flexibility available above it, and no minimum threshold will apply to such grant reductions,” Hefce’s draft funding agreement says.

The document does not state whether Hefce would seek to reduce teaching grant (which some newer institutions without high-cost subjects may no longer receive for new regime students) or research grant (received in only very small quantities by some newer universities).

Hefce’s document does not amount to a new financial memorandum and appears to be more of a one-year stopgap.

Sir Martin Harris, president of Clare Hall, Cambridge and the former director of the Office for Fair Access, said in a letter to Times Higher Education in April that under current legislation, any conditions imposed by Hefce on income received from undergraduate tuition fees “would be unlawful”.

Sir Martin added: “To infringe this principle for any reason would be a disastrous first step on a slippery slope potentially leading to political control of universities whatever the sources of their funding.”

Hefce also says that each institution is required to comply with Universities UK’s Concordat to Support Research Integrity.

“Institutions in receipt of research grant from the council are also required to provide assurance of their compliance with the concordat,” it adds.

However, for 2013-14 only, institutions may state that they are “working towards compliance”.

john.morgan@tsleducation.com

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Most Commented

Worried man wiping forehead
Two academics explain how to beat some of the typical anxieties associated with a doctoral degree
A group of flamingos and a Marabou stork

A right-wing philosopher in Texas tells John Gill how a minority of students can shut down debates and intimidate lecturers – and why he backs Trump

A face made of numbers looks over a university campus

From personalising tuition to performance management, the use of data is increasingly driving how institutions operate

students use laptops

Researchers say students who use computers score half a grade lower than those who write notes

As the country succeeds in attracting even more students from overseas, a mixture of demographics, ‘soft power’ concerns and local politics help explain its policy