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Executive summary


1. This document sets out for consultation proposals relating to teaching funding to support widening access and successful student outcomes, including progression to taught postgraduate study. The proposals form part of a programme of work responding to the Government’s request that we review our approach to funding, to reflect that the funding reforms of 2012-13 are now largely in a steady state.

2. The proposals reflect the wider vision set out in the May 2016 Higher Education White Paper: to boost competition and choice in higher education, to promote teaching excellence and social mobility, and to deliver good value for students, employers and taxpayers. In doing so, they set a direction of travel for funding in this area through and beyond the Government’s plan for the creation of the Office for Students, which will bring together the functions of HEFCE and the Director of Fair Access in this area. We are also working with Government to develop proposals for reform to other areas of teaching funding, including underpinning data requirements, and we plan to issue a discussion document on this later in 2016. 

Key points

3. We have already initiated, in agreement with Government, the following changes to funding from 2016-17, which are not subject to consultation:

  1. Introduction of the national collaborative outreach programme (NCOP).
  2. Increased funding to improve provision for disabled students.

4. We make proposals in the following areas of recurrent funding from 2017-18:

  1. With regard to the funding we have previously identified as the student opportunity allocation:
    1. Removal of the widening access element of the allocation, thereby focusing our access investment on the NCOP.
    2. Replacement of the improving retention element of the allocation with a student premium to support successful outcomes, targeted towards those institutions recruiting the highest proportions of students from disadvantaged backgrounds, including part-time students.
  2. With regard to the funding for taught postgraduate education, with a view to complementing the masters loan scheme:
    1. Continued funding for high-cost subjects at taught postgraduate level at the same level as undergraduate students.
    2. Reform of the taught postgraduate supplement to focus on flexible short-cycle provision across all subjects and progression of students from disadvantaged backgrounds.  

5. We also seek views on:

  1. The data underpinning our allocation to support disabled students.
  2. How teaching funding could address barriers to participation at taught postgraduate level.

Action required

6. Please respond by noon on Friday 22 July 2016 using the online response form available alongside this document at We will not consider responses submitted after this deadline. We welcome responses from anyone with an interest in how we distribute our funding for teaching.

7. We are holding two events, on Monday 27 June and Monday 4 July 2016 in Birmingham and London respectively. These events will include sessions on teaching funding into the future, as well as the specific proposals in this consultation. Further details are available at

8. If you require the document in an alternative format, or assistance with the online form, please email

About the consultation process

9. This consultation assumes some knowledge of our current teaching funding method. Further information is available in ‘Guide to funding 2016-17: How HEFCE allocates its funds’ (HEFCE 2016/07).

10. The full list of consultation questions is set out in Annex A. Each question has been reviewed to ensure that it reflects the relevant issue. In addition, although we recognise that bias is hard to eliminate, we have taken steps to minimise it by using clear language, framing questions openly and providing a range of response options.

11. Annex B sets out a provisional timetable for the consultation and key events.

12. We will consider the responses to this consultation, and our Board is due to make decisions about the next steps, at its meeting in September 2016.

13. We will publish a summary and analysis of consultation responses as part of the outcomes document in autumn 2016. We plan to publish all responses, without names or contact details, at this time.

14. In considering the responses, we will commit to read, record, and analyse the views of every response to this consultation in a consistent manner. For reasons of practicality, a fair and balanced summary of responses, rather than the individual responses themselves, will usually inform any decision made. In most cases the merit of the arguments made is likely to be given more weight than the number of times the same point is made. Responses from organisations and representative bodies with a high interest in the area under consultation, or likelihood of being affected most by the proposals, are likely to carry more weight than those with little or none.

15. In our analysis, we will explain how the consultation responses were considered in our decision. Where we have not been able to respond to a significant material issue raised, we will usually explain the reasons for this.

Date: 8 June 2016

Ref: HEFCE 2016/10

To: Heads of HEFCE-funded further education colleges, Heads of HEFCE-funded higher education institutions
Heads of alternative providers of higher education Other bodies with an interest in the funding of higher education

Of interest to those
responsible for:

Senior management, Finance, Planning, Governance

Enquiries should be directed to:

HEFCE-funded colleges and universities should raise any questions with their HEFCE institutional team (see for a searchable list of contacts).

Queries from other interested parties should be sent to