HEFCE funding decisions

20 February 2015

Commenting on university funding decisions announced by the Board of the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), Dr Wendy Piatt, Director General of the Russell Group, said:

On research and innovation funding

“We are pleased that HEFCE and the Government have both reaffirmed their commitment to funding the excellent research in universities which is so critically important to the UK and has global impact. They are right to increase the focus on funding the very best research in universities. It is particularly important to build on our success by investing in major centres of excellence rather than spreading limited funds too thinly where they will have less impact.

“The recent assessment of research in universities showed a significant increase in the quality of research being conducted, and that this has significant returns for businesses and the economy, our society and our health. But sustained investment in research is vital; it is through Government support for research excellence in major universities that the UK draws in investment from businesses both in the UK and from abroad.

“Postgraduate research students are integral to a high-skilled economy and we find it hard to compete with the financial packages offered by our international competitors to the brightest research students. So the additional £24m funding for doctoral students is very welcome and will help our universities maintain this pipeline of talent. We hope that they continue to provide this in future years as well.

“We welcome the ongoing support for the Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF) which kick starts innovation up and down the country.  Government investment in HEIF results in a six-fold return on investment and that return is greater when focused on the most research-intensive universities.

On teaching funding

“However, we are disappointed that the promised increases in funding for some STEM courses – particularly Chemistry, Physics and Engineering - have not materialised.. These subjects are vital to our future economy but they cost extra money to deliver and tuition fee alone cannot cover the costs.

“We remain concerned about the effect of removing student number controls. Without greater clarity on the long-term funding of this policy, there is a real risk that this will be funded from the already very stretched budget for research and higher education - and therefore lead to less funding per student. Outstanding, internationally-competitive teaching requires proper levels of investment."

Note to Editors

  1. HEFCE's announcement can be found on their website here.

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