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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 The information on this website is historical and is no longer maintained.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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This funding is allocated for the following key areas and activities:

  • £1,558 million for research
  • £1,418 million for teaching
  • £160 million for knowledge exchange
  • £603 million in capital grants
  • £130 million for national facilities and initiatives
  • £52 million in transitional funding for research
  • £50 million for the Postgraduate Support Scheme.

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.’


  1. HEFCE reported the Board decisions on the QR funding method for 2015-16, in Circular Letter 03/2015. Key features of HEFCE’s research funding method for 2015-16 are:
    1. The funding will directly take account of the individual REF assessment elements (that is, 65 per cent for outputs, 20 per cent for impact and 15 per cent for environment).
    2. It is no longer necessary to protect the funding for STEM research at the expense of funding for social sciences, arts and humanities, so STEM protection has been removed. To mitigate the institutional impact of this change, for 2015-16 only we will provide a one-off transitional allocation of £28 million to ensure no institution experiences a reduction in funding directly because of this change.
    3. We wish to continue to recognise, as far as possible, world-leading 4* performance and also celebrate the success of institutions that have increased their volume of internationally excellent work. We will increase the relative quality weighting between 4* and 3* activity in the mainstream QR method from 3:1 to 4:1.
    4. The funding method for Research Degree Programme (RDP) supervision is unchanged, except that we will remove the cap on the rates of grant that was introduced when we first applied quality weightings in the method. In addition, we will provide a one-off transitional allocation of £24 million (not included in the recurrent research total of £1,558 million) as a supplement to mitigate the real-terms decline in the rate of funding for RDP supervision in recent years and to emphasise the importance of investment in the next generation of researchers.
  2. The £50 million from HEFCE provides £5,000 per scholarship which institutions have to match.
  3. The results of REF 2014 are not directly comparable to those of the previous Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) in 2008 because, for example, of the new assessment of research impact rather than of esteem, and changes to units of assessment (UOAs). While comparable numbers of staff were submitted to each exercise, the volumes associated with the highest quality ratings of 4 star (4*, world-leading research) and 3 star (3*, internationally excellent research) have increased by 70 per cent and 24 per cent respectively, and the two combined by 39 per cent.
  4. The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills grant letter to HEFCE of 29 January 2015 sets out the total HEFCE grant for the financial year (April to March) of 2015-16. Changes have been made to our research funding method where necessary to maintain this policy direction. View the grant letter.
  5. HEFCE allocates funding to universities and colleges by academic year, from 1 August each year.
  6. A summary of 2015-16 grant tables is available.
  7. HEFCE’s funding method is described in ‘Guide to funding 2015-16’ (HEFCE 2015/04).