Professor Madeleine Atkins, HEFCE Chief Executive, said:
‘The Government’s Autumn Statement and Spending Review recognises the major contribution that higher education makes to a dynamic economy and society.
‘The real-terms protection of the science ring-fence recognises the world-class research carried out by our universities and related research institutes. Continued long-term investment in research is vital if the UK is to maintain its world-leading reputation for excellence.
‘The reduction to student opportunity funding will be challenging for providers but HEFCE will work with Government and the sector to retarget and reduce the student opportunity fund in a way that best achieves the Government’s aims for social mobility.
‘We also welcome the confirmation of new postgraduate fee loans and maintenance loans for part-time students. We look forward to seeing further details of these new schemes and to the consultation on the proposed new arrangements for health students.’
The Spending Review announces overall reductions to teaching funding of £120 million by 2019-20 but maintains funding in real-terms for high-cost subjects, including STEM subjects which are key to economic growth.
The Government will take forward a review of the Research Excellence Framework in order to examine how to simplify and strengthen funding on the basis of excellence.
HEFCE will be working closely with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills as further details of the Spending Review are made available. The HEFCE Board will consider carefully the funding options in the light of the Grant Letter that we will receive from the Government in due course.