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Response times

We aim to provide accurate, clear and complete responses to queries that fall within our remit. Often we will be able to respond immediately. Sometimes we will need to seek advice not only from colleagues but from people outside HEFCE. In all circumstances we are committed to dealing with external queries quickly and efficiently. Our aim is to reply to all queries - whether made by telephone (including voice-mail messages), email, fax or letter - within 20 working days from the date of receipt.

We expect to be able to answer most queries much more quickly than this. Where there is a complex query, or we need to involve others in the response, we will reply within 20 days, and will include in that reply an explanation of any further work that needs to be done, over what timescale, to provide a complete response.

Contacting us by phone

Our list of HEFCE staff contacts provides telephone numbers and email addresses of staff. We aim to deal with all telephone calls politely and efficiently.

For universities and colleges, the first point of contact should normally be the HEFCE higher education policy adviser. To find the higher education policy adviser for a given institution, consult the HEFCE staff list and type in all or part of the name of the university or college.

If the caller wishes to speak to someone who is not available, we will try to ensure that, during normal office hours, someone else is available to deal with the enquiry or to take a message.

Our Reception hours are 0800 to 1730 Monday to Thursday, and 0800 to 1600 on Friday.  

Making payments

We commit to:

  • paying all higher education institution grant payments in accordance with our schedule, to 100% accuracy
  • making 98 per cent of payments to suppliers within 30 days of receiving a valid invoice.
Consultations

Statement of purpose

In our consultation exercises we will clearly state the purpose and background of the consultation, including:

  • a description of the proposals on which input is sought
  • an explanation of the wider aims and context which form the background to the particular proposals
  • the role of this consultation in the development of policy
  • an explanation of any elements which are fixed and non-negotiable, and those which remain open for consultation
  • a plan of the steps in the policy development process
  • an account of steps already taken to find out the views of interested parties, and how they have influenced the proposals offered for consultation.
  • If the proposals within the consultation are regulatory and likely to burden others, they will include an assessment of the accountability burden.

Who is consulted

We will ensure that interested parties are able to participate in consultations in the following ways:

  • consultation documents will be available on our website
  • it will be possible to submit responses by email; in some cases an electronic response form will be available on the HEFCE website
  • where a full consultation is inappropriate we will seek input from representative bodies within the HE sector without making consultation documents generally available.

Responses may be disclosed on request under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act.

Timetabling

The period between the start of the consultation and the deadline for responses will be:

  • a minimum of 12 weeks where a new principle is involved and/or we are seeking views from outside the HE sector
  • a minimum of 6 weeks where:
    • the relevant funding stream or policy has already been established, so the consultation is about extending what is already known rather than introducing a new principle
    • institutions need to spend the money within a limited period, for example, project capital funding
    • the nature of the response requested makes a 6-week period reasonable, in which case the reasons will be given and we will check with Universities UK and GuildHE that they agree with those reasons.

We will avoid carrying out disconnected and separate consultations in cases where issues could usefully be linked.

Feedback on outcomes

We will publish the outcomes of consultations. These will include:

  • an account of the opinions revealed by the consultation
  • a description of the policy emerging from the process
  • an account of the effect of the consultation result on policy.

Where the advice given to the HEFCE Board on the outcome of a consultation includes a statistical analysis of the responses, that analysis will be made available as part of feedback offered to respondents.

Special initiative funding

Invitations to apply for funding

When conducting a special initiative we will include the following information in the document inviting institutions to apply for funds:

  • the purpose of the initiative
  • the decision-making process, including membership of task groups and advisory panels
  • the form in which responses are requested
  • the criteria against which applications will be judged
  • a timetable of events
  • a contact name.

Timescale

The timescale for applying will be:

  • a minimum of 12 weeks except where the cases below apply
  • a minimum of 6 weeks where:
    • we are asking for something institutions should already have, rather than have to develop
    • the relevant funding stream has already been established
    • institutions need to spend the money within a limited period, for example, project capital funding
    • the nature of the response requested makes a 6-week period reasonable, in which case the reasons will be given and we will check with Universities UK and GuildHE that they agree with those reasons.

Feedback

We will in all cases give generic feedback on the results of the applications for special funding, including commentary on notable characteristics and features of applications.

We will also give feedback on request to individual institutions about the reasons underlying the decision taken on their applications.

Data collection and verification

HEFCE requests for information from institutions

All requests for information will include:

  • explanation of purpose of request
  • how we will use the information
  • why the information is required in the time scale specified
  • explanation of key points
  • summary of any changes and clarifications from previous occasions on which that information was collected
  • new information requested
  • commentaries requested
  • audit information (where applicable)
  • monitoring arrangements (where applicable)
  • what information will be published and what will not
  • any anticipated future contact in regards to the survey and information received
  • explanation of action requested
  • timetable and details of submission of return
  • we specify whose approval is needed on the information requested
  • contact details for queries.

Where a request is made for the return of information in electronic format, the date for return of the data will be specified.

We will respond to queries from institutions that concern verification of their data within 3 working days.

Data collection and confirmation of statistics

Where derived statistics relating to individual institutions are published, institutions will normally be given a copy of the statistics relating to their own institution prior to publication, with the opportunity to comment. However, summary statistics produced directly from verified returns will not normally be referred back to institutions prior to publication.

The annual funding cycle is supported by documentation produced on an annual basis. The first table shows HEFCE's annual round of requests for information from HEIs. The second table shows other documents published by HEFCE on an annual basis. Month of publication is approximate and varies from year to year.

Annual HEFCE requests for information from universities and colleges

Month issued‡Deadline‡NameInstitution typeFormat
March July Financial forecasts submission HEIs Circular letter
April May HESA funding and monitoring data (FAMD): funding data reconciliation exercise* HEIs Circular letter
April May ILR FAMD: funding data reconciliation exercise* FECs Circular letter
September October Medical and dental survey HEIs with medical or dental school Report
September November HEIFES: Higher Education in Further Education: Students Survey FECs Report
September December HESES: Higher Education Students Early Statistics Survey HEIs Report
September December Annual accountability return HEIs Report
September January Annual TRAC return (forms part of the annual accountability return) HEIs Report
October December HEAPES: Higher Education in Alternative Providers Early Statistics survey Alternative providers Report
December February TRAC(T) return HEIs Letter

* The HESA and ILR FAMD: funding data reconciliation exercises only require a response where significant discrepancies are found in an institution's data. (We write separately to institutions that need to respond.)

‡ Timing may vary from year to year.

Other annual HEFCE publications and circular letters

Month‡Publication of information
February Funding for universities and colleges: Board decisions
March Recurrent grants and student number controls: Provisional allocations
March Recurrent grants: Final allocations
March Formula capital allocations for teaching and research
March Knowledge exchange: Formula funding
March March grant letter and technical guidance
March Guide to funding: How HEFCE allocates its funds
March HESA FAMD: funding summaries
March ILR FAMD: funding summaries
May Advance notification of changes to HESES and HEIFES
July HEFCE's Accounts Direction to higher education institutions
July Funding agreements
July ILR FAMD: web facility
July HESA FAMD: web facility
Communications services

Publications

We commit to the following:

Publications enquiries

Most of our publications are not available in paper copy, but on our website only. We will respond quickly and helpfully to enquiries about HEFCE publications through a single point of contact, Rowland Spyer (tel 0117 931 7342, email r.spyer@hefce.ac.uk).

We will provide on request and without charge documents in large print, in Braille or on CD for those with visual disabilities.

Publications content

We will provide an executive summary for all HEFCE reports.

We will produce publications that are written in clear English, with a clear and readable format.

Copyright

Where we hold the copyright, we will allow free use of the information in our publications, including reproduction, provided that we are acknowledged as the source and the information is not used for commercial gain. Read our full copyright notice.

Dealings with the press and media

We commit to the following:

  • We will strive to maintain an ongoing positive, open relationship with the press and media
  • We will respond helpfully and whenever possible within deadlines, to reasonable requests for information that do not contravene confidentiality agreements.

Press contact

Philip Walker, email p.walker@hefce.ac.uk, tel 0117 931 7363.

Email lists and enewsletters

Admin-hefce

We will tell the sector via admin-hefce whenever we need to communicate urgent messages and minor administrative changes, and to notify institutions of events, and when a new document is published.

We will allow anyone to subscribe to admin-hefce. We expect each higher education institution to have at least one member of staff subscribed to admin-hefce, and that this person will be nominated by the head of the institution.

Update-hefce, our monthly enewsletter

We will send subscribers to our Update-hefce email list a monthly round-up of HEFCE news, publications, web updates, events and deadlines.

Contact for admin-hefce and update-hefce lists

Shelley Hollingsworth, email s.hollingsworth@hefce.ac.uk, tel 0117 931 7305.

Pr-hefce, HEFCE's information network for those involved in external communications across the HE sector

Pr-hefce is used to keep colleagues in press and communications teams informed of important forthcoming announcements. We advise all communications teams to have at least one person on the pr-hefce list. Membership of the list is limited to the HE sector.

Contact for pr-hefce list

Philip Walker, email p.walker@hefce.ac.uk, tel 0117 931 7363.

More information about our email lists

Website

We make the following commitments concerning our website:

  • We will make available all our publications on our website, at least in part.
  • We will ensure that the information presented on our website is:
    • accurate and up-to-date
    • accessible to as wide a range of people as possible, complying with disability criteria where technology permits
    • as easy to navigate as possible
    • provides details of key contacts (email addresses and phone numbers)
    • presented to ensure that download times are kept to a minimum.

Website contact

Robert Stewart, email r.stewart@hefce.ac.uk, tel 0117 931 7047.