More funds to go via HEFCE

November 28, 1997

University and college funding. THES reporters assess the impact of the chancellor's pre-budget statement

Quango chiefs will have a firmer hold on higher education's purse-strings under funding arrangements announced this week.

Less money will follow the student and more will be controlled by the higher education funding councils as the government reforms the tuition fee system.

The pre-budget letter to the Higher Education Funding Council for England from the Department for Education and Employment says that the council's grant has been raised to take account of a switch from differential tuition fees to the flat rate Pounds 1,000 fee.

The flat-rate fee is payable by all home full-time and sandwich course students on undergraduate and PGCE courses starting next year, subject to a means test. Students on one-year sandwich course placements or on a year's study abroad will pay a Pounds 500 fee. Fees paid by local authorities for continuing students will also be at the new flat rate.

Details of the fee system are spelled out in a letter to institutions from Tony Clark, the DfEE's higher education director.

The Higher Education Funding Council for England's grant has been increased by more than Pounds 100 million to take account of the difference between the flat-rate fee and the differential fees, which range from Pounds 750 to Pounds 2,800 and work out overall at an average of Pounds 1,200 per student.

In the pre-budget letter, the DfEE says David Blunkett, Secretary of State for Education and Employment, urges the funding council to "give priority in funding additional places to those institutions which can demonstrate a commitment to widening access, to which he attaches particular importance".

Higher education participation rates for young people are expected to remain above 30 per cent, with an increase in the number of mature students and an additional 1,000 full-time places to be provided on sub-degree programmes, mainly in further education colleges. The net effect of the changes on planned higher education and HEFCE student numbers is expected to be a rise by 13,000 and 15,000 respectively compared with last year's budget predictions.

The government has allocated Pounds 36 million to double access funds. HEFCE's grant also includes an additional earmarked Pounds 2 million for fee remission for part-time students in higher education who have lost their jobs.


November 1997

David Blunkett, education secretary, writes to all school sixth formers. He suggests that institutions might take account of individual students' circumstances "in allowing the fee to be paid in more than one instalment".

November 18

Tony Clark, the DfEE's higher education director, spells out in a letter to all vice chancellors and principals the new system of collecting student fees.

November 26

Roger Dawe, director general for further and higher education and youth training, writes to Brian Fender, HEFCE's chief executive, outlining higher education funding for 1998-99.


November 25

Chancellor Gordon Brown's pre-Budget statement.

November 26

DFEE's announcement on FE and HE funding for 1998/99 sent to English funding councils. This is, in effect, the sector's public expenditure settlement.

Soon afterwards follows the Scottish Office announcement to SHEFC. Then, funding councils inform institutions on impact of settlement.

December 9

Deadline for English institutions to submit data on student numbers to HEFCE.


Welsh Office letter to Welsh funding councils announcing FE and HE funding for 1998/99.


DENI announces FE allocations in Northern Ireland.


HEFCE finalises allocations.


DENI announces HE allocations in Northern Ireland.


English, Scottish, and Welsh HE allocations announced.


English, Scottish and Welsh further education allocations announced.

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