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Dear Vice-Chancellor or Principal

1.   In the summer of 2009 we propose to offer an additional route to the Leadership, Governance and Management (LGM) Fund. All English higher education institutions (HEIs) are eligible to apply.

2.   We are seeking proposals from leaders of HEIs for projects that will promote transformational change within those institutions.

Purpose of funding and eligibility

3.   We launched the LGM Fund in August 2004 to fund projects that contributed towards meeting our strategic plan objectives for supporting leadership, governance and management in higher education. The fund has been highly effective in providing financial support to broad-based partnerships within the sector, with a focus on building on the sector's success and providing continuous improvement. We are conscious, however, that the current economic situation presents new and unparalleled challenges and that existing good practice has less to offer in these unprecedented circumstances. We now need to develop the good practice in transformational change that will take the sector through these circumstances, and to disseminate this emerging good practice across the sector.

4.   We believe that institutional leaders are delivering strategic action to bring about the transformational change required in the current economic situation and we would like to capture that good practice. We have therefore decided to invite proposals that will enable the dissemination across the sector of the new approaches they have developed. We are prepared to consider applications from individual institutions, but our preferred model remains the collaborative community of practice. We are calling this one-off initiative 'Leading transformational change'.

5.   Normally, LGM Fund projects attract funding in the range of £30,000 to £250,000. As a result of this invitation, we expect to fund a small number of higher-value projects, led by institutional leaders.

6.   Announcements of successful applications will be made by 30 October 2009.

How the funds might be spent

7.   The LGM Fund's Strategic Oversight and Assessment Group, which is made up of Vice-Chancellors, has identified specific themes that are currently exercising leaders in HEIs and we are seeking proposals focused on those themes. The themes are: distinctiveness strategies; new business models; and collaborative partnerships.

Distinctiveness strategies - the 'what'

8.   We are interested in encouraging projects around what makes an institution distinctive. This distinctiveness might rest in subject focus, or a concentration on a particular learning style or mode of delivery. Setting the new direction may be as much about letting go of some existing activities as about beginning new ones. It involves a focus on the institution's strengths.

9.   The decision taken to select one particular direction may be difficult for the institution's staff, since these new directions challenge the status quo. Those who have undertaken work in this area will recognise that it involves not only identifying the elements of institutional distinctiveness, but also aligning the HEI's resources and staff behind that approach. There is also an element of monitoring whether the strategies are delivering and the means by which the HEI will know this.

10.   We recognise that HEIs are already well advanced in this activity, and it is that good practice that we would like to capture. We are interested in projects that identify and develop the skills that enable and support this kind of transformational change.

New business models - the 'how'

11.   We realise that many institutions have already decided what their distinctiveness strategy should be. They may however still be working out the business models that underpin the decisions they have taken about distinctiveness. These new business models are the internal focus - the mechanism by which the HEI achieves the goals outlined in its distinctiveness strategy.

12.   To achieve their ends, some institutions might require different reward strategies or new contractual arrangements for staff that more effectively support new modes of operation. Some institutions may decide to outsource some of their activities to ensure a more flexible approach. For others, there might be the establishment of new companies to facilitate knowledge transfer activities or the development of new learning networks. Mergers might be involved, or joint ventures with other organisations.

13.   We would welcome proposals for LGM Fund support in developing these models: for example, building the business case for new ways of working or developing a vocabulary for cost control.

Collaborative partnerships - the 'with whom'

14.   In delivering its distinctiveness strategy each HEI establishes collaborative partnerships that add value. These strategic alliances may be formed with a range of partners. Some institutions may work with private educational providers, such as 'for profit' organisations and overseas universities. Others, depending on their focus, may make alliances with professional associations, employers, further education colleges and/or Regional Development Agencies. Links with shared service providers may also be appropriate to enhance business processes.

15.   Projects might address, for example, the accountability implications of these partnerships, as expressed in governance arrangements, or the safeguards and advice needed by students so that they can negotiate through an educational system in which these arrangements proliferate.

Application process

16.   Please e-mail an outline of your proposal as an expression of interest, using the electronic template at Annex A, to lgmfund@hefce.ac.uk by noon on Friday 15 May 2009. Expressions of interests should be around 1,000 words long.

17.   For assistance, contact your relevant institutional team.

Evaluation of proposals

18.   We will evaluate expressions of interest using the LGM Fund criteria:

  • innovation
  • additionality - the project adds significantly to what is already planned
  • sound value for money
  • sustainability
  • dissemination
  • institutional/sector commitment, as demonstrated in partner/institutional contribution
  • evidence of collaboration.

We may put institutions in touch with others expressing an intention to work in similar areas, in order to develop the communities of practice mentioned in paragraph 4.

19.   We will then invite selected applicants to develop a business case for submission by 31 July 2009. Successful projects will be announced by 30 October.

20.   Although we are inviting expressions of interest from institutional leaders through this new route, we will continue to accept applications to the LGM Fund from wherever they emerge. All HEIs funded by HEFCE, consortia of institutions, and representative bodies are encouraged to apply, using the normal application form. Funding will still be available. For information on how to apply through the normal funding route, please see the LGM Fund webpages, where there are also examples of projects funded so far.

Yours sincerely

Professor David Eastwood
Chief Executive

Date: 31 March 2009

Ref: Circular letter 07/2009

To: Heads of HEFCE-funded higher education institutions

Enquiries should be directed to:

the relevant HEFCE institutional team