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'Opportunity, choice and excellence in higher education' sets out the principles, priorities and practices that will guide HEFCE’s work over the coming months and years. It reaffirms the value of higher education to individuals, the economy and society, highlights the importance of the international context, and shows how HEFCE will work with Government, universities and colleges, and other partners to tackle the process of change.

As funding for learning and teaching is directly influenced by the choice of students and progressively allocated through publicly funded tuition fee loans, HEFCE’s funding will be increasingly targeted on public benefit objectives. HEFCE will continue to be the single biggest funder of research in the UK, and a key player in promoting innovation.

The Government has proposed a new role for HEFCE as the 'lead regulator' for higher education. The detail of this role will be developed through consultation and discussion over the coming months, and is subject to legislation.

HEFCE will work collaboratively to ensure a smooth and orderly transition to the new funding arrangements, and to develop the new approaches to regulation, investment and information arising from the White Paper.

Tim Melville-Ross, Chair of the HEFCE Board, said:

'Higher education changes lives. It is enriching and inspiring for students and it is vital to social mobility, future economic growth and our international standing. The Government's White Paper builds on these strong foundations. By putting higher education on a sustainable financial footing, the Government is enabling universities and colleges to deliver a better student experience and take more responsibility for social mobility.

'In future, HEFCE funding will be increasingly targeted on public benefit objectives – supporting widening participation and retention, small specialist institutions, high-cost subjects and vulnerable disciplines. HEFCE will continue to be the single biggest funder of research in the UK, and a key player in promoting innovation.

'HEFCE will also take on a new role as the lead regulator for higher education. The detail of the new regulatory framework will be developed through consultation over the coming months, and is subject to legislation, but HEFCE's primary purpose – safeguarding the collective student interest – is already clear.

'Throughout this period of change, HEFCE will be guided by the principles of opportunity, choice and excellence. We will continue to respect the autonomy of universities and colleges, and we remain resolutely committed to our core values of openness, impartiality, fairness and objectivity.'

Sir Alan Langlands, HEFCE's Chief Executive, said:

'The Government's White Paper on higher education heralds a significant period of legislative, system and organisational change. HEFCE will work actively with Government, universities and colleges and our partners to tackle this in a purposeful way – promoting progress in learning and teaching, research and knowledge exchange; building on our international reputation for excellence and diversity in higher education; and ensuring effective financial stewardship that maintains the confidence of Parliament, students and the wider public.

'This strategy statement sets out the principles, priorities and practices that will guide our work, ensuring the right balance between continuity and necessary change. I hope that it will provide a starting point for an open, constructive discussion with everyone who cares about the future success of higher education.'

Notes

  1. The White Paper 'Higher education: students at the heart of the system' is available on the BIS web-site.
  2. The strategy statement 'Opportunity, choice and excellence in higher education' (HEFCE 2011/22) is available on the HEFCE web-site.