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HEFCE has always recognised the importance of putting in place methods to measure the success of its funding, particularly in times of pressures on public funding.

The wider range of universities and colleges have been supported by HEIF formula funding only since 2006.

Income from knowledge exchange activities collected in the Higher Education – Business and Community Interaction (HE-BCI) survey has risen by 45 per cent since 2004; and based on that survey, for every £1 of HEIF the HE sector attracts £6.30 in knowledge exchange income, as a proxy for impact on the economy and society.

But we recognise that we are only measuring the tip of the iceberg in terms of the value created by the HE sector, underpinned by HEIF, and we are developing a more sophisticated evidence base to capture a larger proportion and greater range of benefits.

The Select Committee has focused more on the narrow range of benefits through research commercialisation, where the UK has had considerable success – compared with the USA, we spin out more companies, and our universities gain a greater proportion of their income from industry (see Annex B to the HE-BCI survey 2012-13). 

However, HEIF also underpins the work that universities do to contribute to local growth and social innovation, student and academic entrepreneurship, international innovation, investment and exports, and wider employer and skills links.

It helps universities form partnerships with each other, local enterprise partnerships, industrial sectors and catapults, and with international industries, investors and public partners.

We also welcome the committee’s highlighting the importance of sustaining and enhancing public investment in science and innovation.

HEFCE aims to maintain a university system that demonstrates excellence in its core activities of research, education and knowledge exchange, while fulfilling its long-standing purpose to inform the wider economy and society.  The Research Excellence Framework embodies our commitment to supporting excellence and impact.

Read the select committee's report