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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 The information on this website is historical and is no longer maintained.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.

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Submissions to Call A and B have now closed.

Dear Vice-Chancellor or Principal

Catalyst Fund: Innovations in learning and teaching, and addressing barriers to student success (two calls)

Purpose and eligibility

1. HEFCE-funded institutions of higher education (HE) are invited to submit proposals on a risk-sharing basis for projects on learning and teaching and supporting student success. There are two separate calls which institutions may apply for:

Call A: Small-scale, ‘experimental’ innovation in learning and teaching

Call B: Addressing barriers to student success

2. Arrangements are set out in Annexes A and B respectively for how we will develop these calls and work with selected providers. We expect a range of proposals, relating to institutions’ own strategies and to local and regional priorities, and building on the research HEFCE and other bodies have undertaken in these areas.

3. Funding will be made available from the Catalyst Fund. We launched the fund in August 2012 as the route for discretionary investment to support key strategic priorities, and advised then that from time to time we might issue calls for projects relating to a specific topic.

4. The Catalyst Fund remains open for bids in other priority areas, but we are unlikely to take forward other bids for innovations in learning and teaching and addressing barriers to student success while these calls are running. Please discuss this further, if necessary, with your HEFCE institutional team.

5. Funding is available to higher education institutions and further education colleges which are directly funded by HEFCE. Based on the legal restrictions to our funding responsibilities, we can only consider proposals from directly funded further education colleges where these are directly linked to the development and delivery of prescribed courses of higher education.

6. The detailed requirements of each call are set out below. Further information is available under ‘Apply for funding: Innovations in learning and teaching, and addressing barriers to student success’ on our website or from institutional contacts.

Complying with state aid and other relevant legislation

7. We set out our general expectation that universities and colleges will have regard to state aid compliance in relation to all our funding in our Memorandum of Assurance and Accountability (HEFCE 2016/12). We may need to ask for some information on state aid in finalising awards for successful bids where there are state aids dimensions, to comply with European Commission monitoring information.

Freedom of information

8. HEFCE is subject to the Freedom of Information Act 2000, which gives a public right of access to information held by a public authority. This may result in applications, communications between us and the institution, information arising from this work, or the outputs from the work undertaken being subject to disclosure if a valid request is made to us. We will comply with such requests in accordance with the legislation and our own policies.

9. Institutions can, if they wish, provide potentially sensitive information (such as information relating to commercial interests) in a separate annex attached to the application form. This will highlight to us that there are concerns about disclosure. With annexes, the proposal must not exceed the maximum length as stated in the application template.

10. Where we consider it to be appropriate and practicable we will seek the views of applicants before disclosing this information in response to a Freedom of Information request. The applicant acknowledges that information provided in the annex is of indicative value only, and that HEFCE may nevertheless be obliged to disclose this information. Our assumption will be that all information in the main application documents can be disclosed on request.

11. Further information about the Freedom of Information Act is available at

Action required

12. Higher education institutions and further education colleges are invited to complete the proposal templates, which are available to download below, and email them to The deadlines are noon on Friday 14 October 2016 for Call A and noon on Friday 30 September 2016 for Call B.

Yours sincerely

Madeleine Atkins

Chief Executive

Date: 5 August 2016

Ref: Circular letter 20/2016

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

Of interest to those
responsible for:

Learning and teaching activity, widening participation and student success

Enquiries should be directed to:

HEFCE Institutions Directorate.