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More than 70 universities and colleges will be offering real help to individuals and businesses during the downturn after winning a share of £27 million in Government funding, it was announced today by HEFCE and DIUS.

The £50 million Economic Challenge Investment Fund will offer practical help to 50,000 people and 11, 700 businesses whether in the form of:

  • over 2,000 internships and work placements for new graduates
  • short targeted courses
  • vouchers for the unemployed for training and help with looking for work.

Businesses will also benefit from a range of initiatives, including:

  • courses for workers on reduced working hours in key managerial and financial skills
  • placements of graduates with research expertise to support new product and process design.

Minister of State for Higher Education, David Lammy said:

'Universities have demonstrated across the country that they are central to the fiscal stimulus that local communities businesses families and young people need.

'Universities are clearly showing that they can provide a lifeline in these challenging times by offering targeted short courses to adults who have lost their jobs, by connecting small businesses to graduates and university expertise, and by offering graduates the skills and opportunities to set up their own business.

'It is particularly encouraging to see that over 2,000 internships and work placements with universities and local businesses have been approved, which will be an important part of the Government's proposals to increase the numbers available to students graduating this summer.'

When announcing the successful bidders, Sir Alan Langlands, HEFCE's Chief Executive, said:

'This shows that higher education can respond swiftly to the needs of the local communities it serves. We set universities and colleges a tough task, giving them just four weeks to develop and submit their proposals, but they responded with enthusiasm and imagination, with 120 bids in total to the Economic Challenge Investment Fund.

'Bids came in from all types of higher education institution, bringing together the efforts of teaching, research and business staff across many departments in a response to evident local needs. New opportunities and courses will be on offer almost immediately, building up to a very full and busy programme over the summer and into next year.'

Government funding is providing £27 million, with the rest coming from universities' own funds, partners such as the Regional Development Agencies and local businesses.

Though the focus is on rapid action and short-term help, universities are also looking to the future and how to help people and businesses succeed when economic recovery gathers pace. Preparing people for the professional skills that will be in demand in the future and supporting development in potential economic growth sectors, such as low-carbon technologies, are key features of a number of the bids.


Notes

1. The Economic Challenge Investment Fund was announced on 27 January 2009. Higher education institutions had to submit bids by 27 February 2009.

2. The total value of the 77 proposals funded by HEFCE is £59,240,920. The total amount of funding being made available by HEFCE to successful bidders is £27,572,834, with the remainder provided in the form of matching contributions from institutions and local partners. The funding will support institutions in delivering short-term support between April 2009 and September 2010.

3. This funding is additional to the £148 million that HEFCE is providing over three years to support universities and colleges to respond to employer demand for courses and training to raise workforce skills to high levels. HEFCE is funding 60 lead institutions which have contracted to deliver 10,700 new places in 2008-09 for employees, co-funded by their employers; and over 18,000 places have been contracted for 2009-10.