Dear Vice-Chancellor or Principal
I am writing to you following the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills' statement in Parliament on 29 October on the student support budget position and his subsequent letter to the HEFCE Chair.
We welcome the renewed commitment to the expansion of higher education so this is available for all those who can benefit; the commitment to maintaining the unit of funding for teaching; and to the maintenance of the science research ring fence.
The Secretary of State has asked us 'to allocate no more than 10,000 additional student numbers for 2009/10, so that in 2009/10 there will be 30,000 more fully funded full-time equivalent students compared with 2007/08'. Our objective, therefore, is to secure managed growth in the system of 10,000 additional student numbers above the 2008/09 levels.
In accordance with the January 2008 grant letter we have allocated almost 10,000 additional student numbers (ASNs), so we will be making no further allocations of ASNs for 2009-10, beyond those already approved or under consideration. In addition, we will make no further allocations of ASNs for 2010-11 at this stage. We expect to issue a further statement about any further ASN allocations for this spending review period in the light of the next grant letter from the Secretary of State, expected in January 2009.
The target for co-funded ASNs is unaffected by the contents of this letter. We believe we have sufficient proposals already in the system to meet the co-funded target.
In addition the Secretary of State has asked us to develop contingency measures that could be used to reduce the risk of institutions over-recruiting, where, given current resources, such over-recruitment could threaten either the sustainability of student financial support or the maintenance of the unit of funding.
We will be considering such contingency measures as a matter of priority. To help manage the risk of over-recruitment beyond the growth already planned and in the system, we would ask institutions to review their planned recruitment for 2009-10 in order to avoid any further increase in full-time undergraduate and PGCE entrants above the level of their actual admissions in 2008-09 plus any ASNs allocated to them for 2009-10.
We recognise that this still represents growth in total numbers in 2009-10 compared with 2008-09 and our objective is to ensure continued and managed growth. However, if growth exceeds what can be managed in the context of the risks described above, further measures that we may consider could include constraining student numbers through changes to the operation of our funding method. We will review the position when we receive the next grant letter from the Secretary of State, by which time we will have actual 2008-09 student data and guidance on student numbers, and the funding position for 2010-11.
Any actions that we may need to take to reduce the risk of the Government's plans being exceeded cannot be any more specific at this time, but will be considered by the HEFCE Board in light of the next grant letter.
Professor David Eastwood