PART-TIME and full-time students over 25 will attract additional funding of just 5 per cent under the Higher Education Funding Council for England's funding method for 1998/99.
Cliff Allen, HEFCE's head of teaching and learning policy, said the weightings were not higher because a survey had revealed that the extra cost of educating these students was not as great as some believed.
The survey of 25 old and new universities and higher education colleges of all sizes found that extra expense was generally associated with mature students only in their first year of study. This included the cost of recruitment, assessing non-traditional qualifications and return to study courses.
For part-timers, more money was needed as they had to pay for items such as registration and pastoral care in the same way as full-time students. They also cost institutions more to recruit, as they do not apply though the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service.
Mr Allen expressed some surprise that institutions had not examined more closely how much more it cost to provide for part-time students and mature undergraduates. The lack of quantitative data meant the council would revise the weightings after three years to see if there was further evidence of additional cost to institutions.
There was "concern that weighting should reflect additional cost, but not distort additional behaviour", Mr Allen said, which was another reason why they were kept "relatively modest".
HEFCE has yet to announce weightings for specialist college factors. They will be determined by a working group to be chaired by Edinburgh University principal Sir Stewart Sutherland.