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Priorities and principles

The Catalyst Fund provides targeted investment for short-term project based activity led by universities and college. The fund supports:

  • government policy priorities, both short and longer-term
  • innovation in higher education
  • student interest
  • risk sharing where there are financial contributions, matched funding, and investments or leverage from appropriate partners and beneficiaries, as well as support for higher risk activities
  • additionality - activity that would not otherwise happen without HEFCE investment or which bridges a clear funding gap so that long-term sustainability can be achieved.

Key priorities

The fund currently has four key priorities for investment. All bids must clearly fit with one of these priorities in order to be successful. 

  • innovations in learning and teaching
  • leadership for new futures
  • efficiency and effectiveness
  • maintaining diversity of market choice

When calls, workshops or sandpits are being run, it will likely mean that we will not take forward any bids in the specified priority areas outside these processes. Please discuss further with your Institutional Team.

Principles of the Catalyst Fund

The Catalyst Fund is used in line with four key principles:

  • Focus on key priorities. As discretionary funding, Catalyst Fund investments must be focused on achieving key priorities, rather than the competitive positioning of individual institutions. The fund’s priorities will change over time depending on the priorities of HE and HEFCE as outlined by Government, to be considered and approved by our Catalyst Fund Panel and HEFCE Board. We will advise bidders of our highest priorities at a particular time.  
  • Exceptional funding. The Catalyst Fund should be used to secure benefits that could not adequately or reasonably be achieved through other means, by HEFCE or by universities and colleges (such as formula funding, information, regulation) or through the operation of the HE system alone. 
  • Delivering public benefit. The benefits arising from Catalyst funding to students, to the public and to universities and colleges as a whole should outweigh those to the institutions receiving funding. This may be achieved particularly in a collaborative project.
  • Consistency. Catalyst Fund investments should be consistent with the Government’s aspiration for a dynamic and competitive system, and which builds upon strength and success.
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