This funding is allocated for the following key areas and activities:
Further details are given in ‘Recurrent grants for 2015-16’ (HEFCE 2015/05).
Priorities for funding higher education
HEFCE will continue to sustain a system of world-class universities and colleges to deliver excellence in learning and teaching, research and knowledge exchange.
Recurrent research funding is maintained in cash terms at £1,558 million. HEFCE will continue to fund research selectively, focusing on world-leading and internationally excellent activity. We remain the largest single source of research funds for universities in England. In addition to the recurrent funding, we are also providing transitional research funding, for 2015-16 only, of £52 million (Note 1).
Teaching funding: In 2015-16, the fourth year of the transition to the new funding arrangements for higher education, HEFCE teaching funding is increasingly aimed at meeting the costs of teaching that cannot be covered by tuition fees alone, with £684 million for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and other high cost subjects.
Other allocations include £380 million for widening access and student retention and success. This includes a £5 million uplift to the disabled students element of the funding, enabling us to allocate £20 million in 2015-16.
Knowledge exchange between universities and business continues to make a significant contribution to economic growth. Funding is maintained at £160 million.
Postgraduate education: Around £130 million will be allocated to support postgraduate taught study in 2015-16. Postgraduate research is supported through the £240 million research degree programme supervision fund, and we have supplemented this, for 2015-16 only, by a further £24 million in transitional funding. We are also building on the evidence provided by the Postgraduate Support Scheme pilot projects in 2014-15 by providing an additional £50 million towards £10,000 scholarships for masters students currently under-represented in postgraduate taught education (Note 2).
Capital funding totals £603 million, an increase on the £440 million allocated in 2014-15. This includes £200 million for STEM capital, £194 million for research, £90 million for teaching, and £100 million for the UK Research Partnership Investment Fund.
Student number controls: Following the Government announcement in 2013, student number controls have been removed from all HEFCE-funded institutions from 2015-16.
The main changes in the funding allocations for 2015-16 reflect the results of the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF) and the fourth year of the progressive shift of teaching funding from HEFCE grants to student fees.
The results of the 2014 REF demonstrate the world-leading quality of research in UK universities. They also highlight the wide-ranging and significant benefits that UK research brings to the economy and society.
Through our distribution of funding for research for 2015-16 we continue selectively to fund world-leading and internationally excellent research wherever it is found, to provide selective support for the next generation of researchers, and to recognise research funding from external sources such as charities and business. Changes have been made to our research funding method where necessary to maintain this policy direction.
Professor Madeleine Atkins, Chief Executive of HEFCE, said:
‘The results of the REF demonstrated that we have a world-leading higher education sector. We will continue to fund universities and colleges in ways which allow them to build on their successes and continue to flourish for the benefit of students, the economy and society.
‘The uplift to the rate of funding for high-cost subjects such as STEM, and to the additional funding we allocate to certain small and specialist institutions, recognises their economic and cultural importance to the country. We have also provided an uplift to our student opportunity allocation to reinforce our commitment to ensuring that the sector contributes to a fairer, more equitable society with socially mobile citizens benefiting the economy and society.’