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The latest announcement is part of a programme to raise the skill levels and increase participation by people with little or no experience of HE, and is one of a range of initiatives to address these priorities. Its distinctiveness lies in making HE available in areas not already well served with relevant HE. Since 2003 HEFCE has invested around £110 million in 21 HE centres or new university campuses, spread across seven regions. The funding has provided buildings and equipment and supported 10,000 additional student numbers (ASNs) over the six year period.

The programme has enabled adults and young people to benefit who would not otherwise have been able to experience HE. The programme is designed to:

  • support the progression of students from further to higher education.
  • enable universities and colleges to work with local businesses to develop higher level skills
  • provide courses which meet local students' needs.

Sir Alan Langlands, Chief Executive of HEFCE, said:

'We are committed to improving access to high-quality learning and teaching. Developing existing higher education centres has enabled us to raise the relatively low levels of participation in many parts of the country. These centres have the capacity to transform people’s lives and broaden their horizons.'

Most HE centres involve higher education institutions (HEIs) collaborating with a partner further education college (FEC) and other funding partners such as regional development agencies and local authorities.

The University Centre at Peterborough Regional College is operated in collaboration with Anglia Ruskin University. The Higher Education Centre at Burnley College has been developed though a partnership with the University of Central Lancashire, and an HE centre at Hartlepool College with the University of Teesside. Less typically an HEI may create a new university campus to meet a particular local need, such as Liverpool Hope University at Everton.

Larger developments have expanded HE across a region involving multiple HEI and FEC partners and a range of other funders, such as University Campus Suffolk (UCS), supported by the Universities of East Anglia and Essex, with courses provided in Ipswich and at Centres co-located with five partner colleges in the region. Universities at Medway is a collaboration of Canterbury Christ Church University, the University of Greenwich, the University of Kent and Mid Kent College.

The existing HE centres that have been allocated ASNs for 2010-11 are:

RegionHE CentreLead HEI(s)Strategic Development Fund (SDF) investment £millionASNs allocated 2010-11
East Harlow Anglia Ruskin University £5M 100
East Peterborough Anglia Ruskin University £5M 200
East University Campus Suffolk University of East Anglia £19.6M 200
East Southend University of Essex £4.485M 200
North West Hope at Everton Liverpool Hope University £3M 118
South East University Centre Hastings University of Brighton £3.7M 100
South East Universities at Medway Canterbury Christchurch University, University of Greenwich, University of Kent £3.95M 700
South West Combined Universities in Cornwall University of Exeter, University College Falmouth and University of Plymouth £7.05M (Phases 1 and 2) 450
Yorkshire and Humber Grimsby University of Hull £7.25M 140

In addition to the nine centres listed above, HEFCE has also agreed to fund additional student places at HEIs with existing projects.

These comprise:

RegionHEISDF investmentASNs allocated 2010-11
London University of the Arts London £5M 200
South East University of Chichester, Bognor Regis Campus £6M 200
London King's College London £7.5M 200
East Midlands University of Nottingham, School of Veterinary Science £4M 180
London Ravensbourne College £4M 100
West Midlands University of Worcester £15M (including £5M repayable grant) 410
Total     1290

Notes

1. The Secretary of State wrote to HEFCE in May this year authorising the Council to allocate 10,000 additional student numbers for 2010-11. The distribution of these numbers is outlined in HEFCE Circular letter 22/2009.