Per-student grant funding in England down 19 per cent since 2018

Smaller campuses and providers in London bear brunt of latest reforms

July 30, 2021
Young man cutting credit card with scissors
Source: iStock

Per-student grant funding for higher education providers in England has slumped by nearly a fifth in the past three years, with smaller campuses and those in London bearing the brunt of the most recent changes, data show.

Figures published by the Office for Students on 30 July show that it will allocate £1.266 billion in recurrent grants to providers in 2021-22, an increase of £10 million (0.8 per cent) on the total originally announced for the current academic year.

However, this funding is expected to support an increase of nearly 83,000 (7 per cent) in full-time equivalent student numbers, meaning that per-student funding has shrunk by 11.3 per cent.

OfS analysis shows that the unit of funding now stands at £981 per student, down from £1,215 in 2018-19 – a drop of 19.3 per cent.

Most of English universities’ funding for teaching comes from tuition fees. But grant funding remains a significant source of income for some institutions.

Funding for the coming year has been reshaped by reforms ordered by Gavin Williamson, the education secretary, under which cash awarded to institutions in the capital under a London weighting has been scrapped, and allocations for courses in the creative and performing arts and media studies have been reduced by 50 per cent.

In contrast, funding for high-cost subjects in areas such as the sciences has been increased. This means that larger institutions, which typically offer more of these courses, have been more likely to see an overall increase in funding for next year.

For example, among institutions receiving more than £5 million annually from the OfS, 57 get an increase, and 22 suffer a cut. In contrast, among providers allocated less than £1 million, 155 get a cut, and only 53 get a raise.

Because of larger institutions’ bigger intakes, 72 per cent of OfS-fundable full-time equivalent students are at providers that get a boost in recurrent funding next year.

The loss of the £65 million total London weighting means that institutions in the capital have been particularly likely to see their overall funding shrink: 66 will receive less, compared with 12 that will get more.

Nationwide, 30 providers have had an increase of more than £1 million, while 20 have had a reduction of more than £1 million, the largest being about £5 million.

Register to continue

Why register?

  • Registration is free and only takes a moment
  • Once registered, you can read 3 articles a month
  • Sign up for our newsletter
Please Login or Register to read this article.

Related articles