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HEFCE closed at the end of March 2018. The information on this website is historical and is no longer maintained.

Many of HEFCE's functions will be continued by the Office for Students, the new regulator of higher education in England, and Research England, the new council within UK Research and Innovation.

The HEFCE domain - - will continue to function until September 2018. At this point we will close the site entirely and all its information will only be available from the National Web Archive.


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The initiative was launched by UnLtd and HEFCE in January 2012. Over the next 12 months the chosen HEIs will be recruiting Champions from across their institutions to engage a wide range of staff and students from all disciplines.

In their applications for this funding, HEIs proposed a wide range of outreach approaches, from cross-campus ‘virtual hubs’ established to raise awareness of social entrepreneurship and the support available, to inspirational master classes delivered by high profile social entrepreneurs.

They will be testing a range of methods and approaches to finding, funding and supporting social entrepreneurs within their institutions, including developing ‘acceleration hubs’ for social venture growth; recruiting ‘social entrepreneurs in residence’ to provide one-to-one mentoring; and setting up online support platforms. 

The new programme follows the success of the Higher Education Social Entrepreneurship Awards, which saw 200 social ventures established in 70 HEIs between 2009 and 2011. 

Cliff Prior, CEO of UnLtd, said: 

We received an overwhelming and brilliant response to the initiative from universities in England and selecting the final 56 was a difficult process. We believe the chosen universities will deliver high quality support, helping both staff and students to start up and thrive as social entrepreneurs, and that they will show how this work can be embedded across higher education to improve student experience, employability, research and studies.’ 

David Sweeney, Director of Research, Knowledge Exchange and Skills at HEFCE, said: 

This is a fantastic opportunity for universities to develop a sustainable culture of support for social entrepreneurs within their institutions.  This unique initiative builds upon HEFCE’s partnership with UnLtd and will help university staff and students use their talent and enthusiasm to make a difference in the wider community.’ 

The initiative will also see the HEIs matched with a network of local business professionals who will provide pro bono support to staff and students looking to start up or grow their social venture. It will also provide opportunities for collaboration and knowledge sharing across a network of HEIs. 


What is social entrepreneurship? 

Social entrepreneurship is the recognition of a social problem and the uses of entrepreneurial principles to organise, create and manage a social venture to achieve a desired social change. While a business entrepreneur typically measures performance in profit and return, a social entrepreneur also measures positive returns to society. 

About UnLtd 

UnLtd is the leading provider of support to social entrepreneurs in the UK and offers the largest such network in the world. UnLtd resources over 1,000 individuals each year through its core Awards programme.

UnLtd operates a unique model by investing directly in individuals and offering a complete package of resources; from awards of funding between £500 and £15,000 to ongoing advice, networking and practical support. 

UnLtd resource community entrepreneurs to start-up; support those with more established ventures to scale up; and are committed to developing an eco-system of support to make it easier for those who need help to find it.