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 The information on this website is historical and is no longer maintained.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

The HEFCE domain - - will continue to function until September 2018. At this point we will close the site entirely and all its information will only be available from the National Web Archive.


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HEFCE-funded higher education institutions and further education colleges may return completed expressions of interest by noon on Wednesday 28 February 2018.

Dear Vice-Chancellor or Principal

Catalyst Fund: Tackling religious-based hate crime affecting students

1. HEFCE-funded universities and further education colleges which are directly funded by HEFCE are invited to submit proposals for projects addressing religious-based hate crime affecting students, to receive funding of up to £50,000 from HEFCE’s Catalyst Fund. The deadline for returning completed expressions of interest is noon on Wednesday 28 February 2018.

Purpose and eligibility

2. Funding will be provided on a match-funded basis at a minimum of one to one. Selected projects will be brought together to form a collaborative, nationwide network of specialist knowledge and leading practice in addressing hate crimes directed at students on the grounds of religion or belief. This will complement the activities we are currently supporting on student safeguarding.

3. The network will be managed centrally. There will be an evaluation of the network as a whole, and it is a condition of grant that the funded projects take part in this evaluation as well as conducting their own for their individual projects.

4. Further information, including the application process, selection criteria and timescale, is provided at Annex A. We are requesting expressions of interest in the first instance. The template for expressions of interest is at Annex B. Both annexes are available on the HEFCE website alongside this document. Arrangements are set out in Annex A for how we will develop this call and work with selected institutions to form the network. Interested bidders should read this guidance carefully before committing to a submission, as we are taking a specific approach to this call with a clearly defined timetable.

5. We expect to receive proposals demonstrating evidence of institutions’ existing work in this area and their specialist knowledge and practice, and which set out innovative approaches to tackling key issues in order to support their students.

6. The deadline for returning completed expressions of interest is noon on Wednesday 28 February 2018.

7. 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.

8. 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 further education colleges where these are directly linked to the development and delivery of prescribed courses of higher education.

Complying with state aid and other relevant legislation

9. Where there are state aid dimensions to a bid, to comply with European Commission monitoring information we may need to ask for some information on state aid in finalising an award. Our ‘Memorandum of assurance and accountability between HEFCE and institutions’ (HEFCE 2017/08) sets out our general expectation that HEFCE-funded higher education institutions will have regard to state aid compliance in relation to all our funding.

Freedom of information

10. 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 an 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.

11. We do not want to receive personal data or related information which might identify individual students or staff. Institutions may provide other forms of potentially sensitive information, but should highlight to us if there are any concerns about disclosure. With such additional information, the expression of interest template must not exceed the maximum length as stated in the documentation.

12. Where we consider it to be appropriate and practicable we will seek the views of applicants before disclosing information in response to a Freedom of Information request. Applicants should be aware that even when concerns have been expressed, 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.

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

Action required

14. Eligible higher education institutions and further education colleges should read the information and timetable at Annex A carefully, and interested bidders are invited to complete the expression of interest template at Annex B. The deadline for return of completed expressions of interest is noon on Wednesday 28 February 2018. Proposals must be emailed to  

Yours sincerely

Professor Madeleine Atkins

Chief Executive

Date: 6 February 2018

Ref: Circular letter 03/2018

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

Of interest to those
responsible for:

Student welfare; Human resources; Equality and diversity 

Enquiries should be directed to:

Matt Jennings, Catalyst Fund Manager at for process queries, or Daniel Aldridge, Policy Adviser at for policy queries.