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Executive summary

Purpose

1. The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills sets the overall policy and funding level for the new National Scholarship Programme (NSP). HEFCE administers the fund on its behalf.

2. This document provides guidance to institutions on the operation and management of the National Scholarship Programme for the academic year 2012-13. It provides detail on the funding arrangements for the programme and information about the eligibility criteria and application process for potential NSP beneficiaries. It also explains how HEFCE intends to monitor and review the programme in this initial year to inform its development in subsequent years.

Key points

3. The National Scholarship Programme was first announced as a 'student premium' by the Deputy Prime Minister on 15 October 2010. It was the final strand in the three-strand 'Fairness Premium' which was to target funding at disadvantaged children and young people (the other two strands were an entitlement for all two year-olds to 15 hours per week of pre-school education, and the Pupil Premium).

4. The primary purpose of the National Scholarship Programme is to benefit individual students from disadvantaged backgrounds as they enter higher education. The Secretary of State, Vince Cable, commented that the programme is 'designed to complement rather than replace what universities are already doing. The programme will remain flexible in its initial years to enable us to make adjustments in the light of experience on campus.' Therefore institutions should not assume that the programme will operate in the same way in future years.

5. The broad outline of the programme including the national eligibility criteria was set out by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and posted on the HEFCE web-site on 10 February 2011. This guidance builds on that initial outline and offers greater detail on the operation and monitoring of the programme for 2012-13.

6. The Government's contribution to the programme will be £50 million in 2012-13, rising to £100 million in 2013-14 and £150 million in 2014-15. Each eligible full-time student will receive a benefit of not less than £3,000, with a pro rata amount delivered to part-time students studying a minimum of 25 per cent intensity of the full-time equivalent.

7. Institutions will be expected to match the Government's contribution. Institutions intending to charge above £6,000 per year for any of their fees will be expected to contribute at least 100 per cent (that is, a contribution to the value of at least £3,000 for full-time students, pro rata for part-time). Institutions intending to charge £6,000 or less for their fees will be expected to contribute at least 50 per cent (that is, a contribution to the value of at least £1,500 for full-time students, pro rata for part-time).

8. Institutions submitting access agreements to the Office for Fair Access (OFFA) will need to include information regarding the NSP and the level of matched contribution they will make in those agreements. Institutions not submitting an access agreement to OFFA will be required to submit an addendum to their widening participation strategic assessment (WPSA) to HEFCE in order to provide the necessary information. A template for the addendum is at Annex A.

9. Provisional allocations were published in March 2011 ('National Scholarship Programme: Provisional allocations for 2012-13', HEFCE Circular letter 13/2011)see note 1 and the final allocations will be published in July 2011. Institutions will receive their full allocation in one payment in August 2012.

10. The programme will be subject to a review from the outset. Therefore, we anticipate commissioning consultants in summer 2011, with a view to starting the review in autumn 2011.

11. Delivery of the programme will be monitored through institutions' Higher Education Statistics Agency returns (or Individualised Learner Record returns for further education colleges) and an end-of-year return to OFFA and HEFCE as part of the joint annual reporting against WPSAs and access agreements.

Action required

12. Institutions submitting access agreements to OFFA must include information regarding the delivery of the programme and their matched contribution in their agreements.

13. Institutions intending to charge £6,000 or less for their fees and therefore not submitting an access agreement to OFFA must complete the addendum to the WPSA using the template at Annex A and return it to HEFCE by Wednesday 1 June 2011.

14. Institutions intending to charge £6,000 or less for their fees may opt out of the NSP and must inform us of this decision within the WPSA addendum. Participation in the NSP will be compulsory for institutions intending to charge above £6,000 for any of their undergraduate fees from 2012-13.


Notes

  1. All HEFCE publications are available.

Date: 1 April 2011

Ref: HEFCE 2011/10

To: Heads of HEFCE-funded further education colleges, Heads of HEFCE-funded higher education institutions

Of interest to those
responsible for:

Senior management, Admissions, Access agreements, Widening Participation, Finance

Enquiries should be directed to:

Sarah Howls, tel 0117 931 7073, e-mail nsp@hefce.ac.uk