Third-stream cash floods in for some but dries up for others

Some universities will see their third-stream funding rise by 50 per cent but others will miss out altogether after a decision to press ahead with a formula that concentrates an annual pot of £150 million on the most "effective performers".

May 26, 2011

A total of 98 out of 129 English institutions will receive a share of the £600 million earmarked over four years for the Higher Education Innovation Fund, which is used to boost knowledge exchange with businesses and not-for-profit organisations.

The allocations, which are unchanged from those put forward earlier this year in a consultation led by the Higher Education Funding Council for England, are based on measures of the income earned by universities from the previous round of Heif funding.

Hefce has raised the funding ceiling for those with major financial returns on their knowledge-exchange programmes to £2.85 million, 50 per cent higher than the previous limit of £1.9 million. At the same time, however, a new "threshold" level means that institutions that failed to generate enough income to win an allocation of at least £250,000 will no longer receive funding.

Over the next four years, more than 20 universities will receive the maximum annual amount. They include many big research-intensive institutions but also places such as Coventry University, Cranfield University and London Business School.

The 31 to lose all their Heif funding are mainly small specialist institutions. Among them are the Arts University College at Bournemouth and Harper Adams University College, but the University of Winchester and the University of Worcester also miss out.

During the consultation, GuildHE, many of whose members are losing all their Heif money, said the funding formula was unfair and penalised small institutions.

But David Sweeney, Hefce's director for research, innovation and skills, said the outcome was "not simply a matter of size", although specialists may have missed out because the metrics rewarded "economic returns".

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