'Opportunity, choice and excellence in higher education' sets out the principles, priorities and practices that will guide HEFCE as we work with Government, universities, colleges and other partners to implement the higher education reforms. We hope this strategy statement will provide a starting point for an open, constructive discussion with everyone who has an interest in the success of higher education.
Download the full strategy statement or see the key points below.
This statement sets out HEFCE's high-level approach to tackling the challenges and opportunities of higher education reform.
We will continue to support core strengths in higher education: building on a reputation for excellence and diversity in learning and teaching, world-leading research and an enviable record of knowledge exchange.
We have identified a number of key principles – opportunity, choice, and excellence – which will drive change in higher education and guide our future work.
And we will regulate to safeguard the collective interests of students while respecting the autonomy of higher education institutions.
Future investment of HEFCE funding will be targeted on public benefit, and information collected in a streamlined way will be used to promote student choice and provide a reliable, robust evidence base for our decisions.
We will ensure that funding follows the decisions of learners and that successful institutions are able to thrive.
As the 'lead regulator' HEFCE will play a key role in supporting universities and colleges and securing public benefit across all of these activities.
We will also continue to work in close partnership with Government, universities and colleges, and the key national agencies to promote high-quality teaching and research.
People with the potential to benefit from successful participation in higher education should have the opportunity to do so.
The proportion of young people recruited from the most disadvantaged parts of the country has increased by about 30 per cent over the past five years. We must build on this success, and continue to pursue fairness for all, ensuring that social background does not inhibit access to the full range of higher education institutions and that the National Scholarship Programme supports students who require additional support. Widening participation in this way is vital in creating a fairer society, securing improvements in social mobility and supporting economic growth.
Widening participation across society and extending opportunities to non-traditional learners will also bring considerable public benefit. A diverse student population is essential to vibrant intellectual enquiry and a resilient knowledge economy. It encourages a higher education offer that is socially and culturally diverse, and more representative of local communities. The availability of local provision, including through further education colleges, will continue to be very important. It is also essential that the principle of opportunity extends to postgraduate taught programmes and research students, and that study in England remains open to overseas students at all levels.
HEFCE will monitor the effects of the new financial system to ensure that new initiatives on access and student support deliver these objectives, providing a renewed focus on the whole life-cycle of higher education from pre-entry, through admission, study support, successful completion at undergraduate level and progress on to further study or employment.
Greater plurality that injects innovation, expertise and high quality in the future provision of higher education will be a welcome feature of the reform programme.
Universities and colleges must ensure that students have the information they need to make informed choices about what, where and how they want to study. We will aim to support a higher education sector with a diverse and flexible range of provision, embracing all academic disciplines and building further on the wide range of qualifications currently available through full- or part-time study and accelerated learning.
It will be important to ensure that the location and type of courses available reflect student demand and that new approaches are developed without compromising quality or standards.
Greater plurality will include more private sector organisations. Where students choose to study will not affect their entitlement to access student support funding, providing that the institutions offer recognised higher education programmes.
This will be subject to the requirements of the new regulatory framework covering all institutions and will be based on clear criteria for access, quality, information and financial sustainability.
The international success of higher education in England depends on its reputation for high-quality teaching and research. This quality – and international perceptions of it – must continue to thrive under the new arrangements.
This means a renewed commitment to high-quality higher education that is more responsive to student choice, which provides the best possible student experience and which helps improve social mobility.
It also means maintaining our commitment to internationally excellent and world-leading research, promoted through the dual support system and effective collaboration with the Research Councils, charities and industry funders of research.
The implementation of Higher Education Innovation Funding (HEIF) on the basis of performance also remains a priority.
Page last updated 28 November 2011