Over-recruitment bill: £16 million

July 22, 2010

De Montfort pays the biggest penalty as Hefce confirms grants. Simon Baker writes

Universities and colleges that recruited too many students in 2009-10 will have their grants cut by a total of almost £16 million next year, it has been revealed.

The Higher Education Funding Council for England said the fines for over-recruitment, which amount to £3,700 per student for 4,235 excess places, would affect about 60 institutions across the sector.

De Montfort University will suffer the biggest adjustment - a £3.4 million grant cut - for recruiting 913 too many students, while the University of Hertfordshire loses £1.9 million for over-recruiting by 502.

Other big losers include Edge Hill University, which is being docked almost £1 million for enrolling 268 too many students, and Middlesex University, which over-recruited by 203 students and is losing £750,000.

More than £500,000 has been docked from the University of Bolton (which over-recruited by 172), the University for the Creative Arts (146), Keele University (137) and Nottingham Trent University (160).

A Hefce spokesman said that most of the other adjustments were relatively small and the total of £15.7 million accounted for a fraction of the overall £4.7 billion teaching budget.

As reported in Times Higher Education in May, De Montfort had been facing a fine of more than £4 million for breaching its limit, which was imposed by the Labour government in 2009.

Dominic Shellard, De Montfort's new vice-chancellor, said the institution "fully accepted" the fine and was now working to overhaul its admissions procedure. He added that since taking office last month, he had brought fresh people into senior roles, created a new executive board and "completely rebuilt" De Montfort's relationship with Hefce.

The fines for institutions were announced as Hefce confirmed its grant allocations for 2010-11.

Overall, the sector is receiving more funding than set out in Hefce's provisional allocations, announced in March, mainly due to the government's University Modernisation Fund (UMF), which will fund 10,000 extra student places next year.

In total, the increase is worth £21 million compared with Hefce's provisional allocations. Just over a third of institutions (90) will receive more funding, while the remaining 163 have seen a cut.

Although an extra £152 million is now being provided by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills under the UMF, the sector is also being hit by £82 million in efficiency savings as part of the coalition government's demand for £6.2 billion in immediate spending cuts.

Hefce has also warned institutions that their grant allocations for 2010-11 could be reassessed if - as is likely - the government's Comprehensive Spending Review, due in the autumn, leads to reductions in the BIS budget for the next financial year.

The further cut could be necessary because of the overlap between the financial and academic year.

simon.baker@tsleducation.com

For a full breakdown on which universities and colleges have been fined, see attached table (right)

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