HEFCE grant letter

30 January 2015

Commenting on the HEFCE grant letter, Dr Wendy Piatt, Director General of the Russell Group, said:

“The Russell Group welcomes the continued commitment to maintain a funding system that, with appropriate resource, can sustain a high performing higher education system that contains some of the world's best universities.

“The Government is right to recognise the fundamental importance of QR funding to the country’s success. QR funding underpins research excellence in the UK. In particular, it allows universities to develop and maintain the research base and pursue long-term curiosity-driven research that produces the biggest pay-offs in the end. Ministers are right to emphasise the importance of focussing funding on world-leading and internationally excellent research; it is particularly important to build on success by investing in major centres of excellence rather than spreading limited funds too thinly where they will have less impact.

“The continued focus on excellence as the basis for research capital investment is good news. Russell Group universities rightly benefit from this funding and use it to build world-class facilities, which we use collaboratively with partners like SMEs and multi-nationals.

“We welcome the continuing commitment to HEIF. 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. The confirmation of £200 million for the Research Partnership Investment Fund is a demonstration of the strength of partnerships between our leading universities and business.

“We also welcome the prioritisation of high cost subjects for teaching funds so we urge HECFE to deliver the uplift in the funding per student for STEM courses promised by the Government last year.  Tuition fee income alone cannot cover the high costs of STEM subjects which are critical to the future growth of the UK’s economy. These high cost subjects are currently underfunded and this puts pressure on other important activities. Equally, it is important that STEM teaching capital supports high quality provision, not just growth.

“We would continue to call on the Government to provide clarity on how it will fund the removal of student number controls. We would be extremely concerned if the substantial funds required to pay for additional students were taken from the already very stretched budget for research and higher education. It would be very worrying if this policy leads to less funding per student. Outstanding teaching and internationally-competitive university education requires proper levels of investment.”

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