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Dear Vice-Chancellor or Principal

1.   I am writing to inform higher education institutions (HEIs) of a new grant programme on student retention, funded by HEFCE and the Paul Hamlyn Foundation. Institutions are invited to submit proposals that evaluate the impact and transferability of institutional practice in relation to student retention, with an emphasis on collaborative approaches where appropriate. The deadline for stage one applications is 30 May 2008.

2.   A total of £1 million over three years is available from September 2008 to fund projects to identify, evaluate and disseminate institutional good practice relating to student retention, reflecting the specific recommendations and priorities identified in the recent reports from the National Audit Office1 and the Public Accounts Committee2. All applications will be assessed against criteria that include clear outcomes and impact, value for money, sustainability of outcomes, and effective dissemination.

3.   There is a two-stage application process. The funding template for stage one applications is on the HEFCE website alongside this document under 2008 publications (Annex C). Applicants should complete this form and return it to Chris Scrase, Successful applicants will then be asked to provide additional information in a stage two application which will be assessed by an advisory panel.

4.   Further details on how to apply are at Annexes A and B.

Yours sincerely

John Selby
Director, Education and Participation 

Denise Barrows
Programme Manager, Education & Learning
Paul Hamlyn Foundation


1.   National Audit Office (2007), 'Staying the course: the retention of students in higher education'

2.   House of Commons Committee of Public Accounts (2008), 'Staying the course: the retention of students on higher education courses - tenth report of session 2007-08'

Date: 25 April 2008

Ref: Circular letter 08/2008

To: Heads of HEFCE-funded further education colleges

Enquiries should be directed to:

Chris Scrase, 0117 931 7153