Vice-chancellors and principals will urge the government to avoid a return to "boom and bust" in higher education when they submit their bid for extra cash from the chancellor's forthcoming spending review.
They will present fresh evidence that universities and colleges are playing a vital role in the development of Britain's economy and are backing the government's agenda for an "inclusive" society by widening participation in higher education.
Baroness Warwick, chief executive of the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals, said this week that the two-pronged argument should persuade ministers to sustain investment and to look to giving more money to modernise institutions and maintain teaching and research quality.
The CVCP must present its submission for SR2000 to the Department for Education and Employment, the Department of Trade and Industry, the Department of Health and the Treasury before Christmas.
It has yet to put a figure on the needs of the sector, but has commissioned the Science Policy Research Unit at the University of Sussex to update its 1996 study of the economic impact of higher education to be used as key evidence.
Baroness Warwick told The THES that with sufficient government funding higher education was ideally placed to respond to ministers' economic and social agendas. She said: "We will be saying we do not want the government to go back to the boom-and-bust approach in higher education. We enjoyed a reasonable settlement in the last CSR, but it is vital that that is sustained. We will be reminding the government that it says it wants high-quality higher education and expansion and inclusiveness. We can deliver, but it can only be done with additional funding."
Tony Bruce, CVCP policy chief, added: "We regard the last CSR settlement as a catch-up operation. That kind of investment needs to be renewed on a continuing basis to ensure that the problems we have had in the past do not recur."
Meanwhile, the Standing Conference of Principals is gearing up its bid for a sizeable share of any money allocated to back the government's plans for higher education expansion.
Patricia Ambrose, Scop's chief executive, said there would be a concerted effort to raise the profile of higher education colleges.
"We are part of the sector that has not been fully exploited and has potential for further growth," she said.