Please note: these questions relate to the funding competition that ran from April to September 2017.
Table of contents
There is up to £20 million of funding available from September 2017 to 31 March 2019. We will allocate £10 million in the financial year 2017-18 and another £10 million in the financial year 2018-19. Participating higher education providers must have secured matched funding from other sources.
Yes. Proposals can apply for both recurrent funding and for capital funding to establish a physical institute and for equipment purchase, if a strong rationale is provided.
Any HEFCE-funded higher education institution with existing computer science or information technology provision can submit a bid.
No. Only HEFCE-funded higher education institutions with existing computer science provision can submit proposals. However, further education colleges and alternative providers can act as partners in proposals.
Yes. The lead higher education institution must establish a partnership or consortium with industry. Proposals should explain how the proposed institute’s activities respond to employers’ current and future demands. Letters of support from all partners must be submitted in the application. See Annex A for further information on what the letters should include.
Yes. Proposals must have one HEFCE-funded institution as the lead and should include an industrial partner or consortium. Other partners may include higher education providers of all kinds, employers, professional bodies or other stakeholders.
No. An institution may not act as a lead on more than one bid.
Yes. Funding is only available to higher education institutions with existing course provision in computer science or information technology. This is so the activities of the institute can build on existing expertise and lead on developing solutions to ensure digital skills growth at levels 6 and 7.
The deadline for proposals is noon on Friday 7 July 2017.
Spend on the successful project can begin as early as October 2017, but all spend must be complete by 31 March 2019. We expect the proposed institute to continue beyond this period and applications should explain how the institute will be sustainable following the initial HEFCE funding period.
Yes. To meet future digital skills needs, we anticipate some proposals may include disciplines such as engineering, bio-informatics and creative subjects. Subjects must include a computer science element. We expect bidders to establish a clear rationale for including non-computer science subjects in the bid.
The institute should focus on levels 6 and 7. However, proposals may highlight how activities link up with broader work on relationships with schools, for example through access agreements.
Yes, as the project’s ambition is to have national reach.
No. We expect that some proposals may contain in-kind contributions as matched funding. Examples of contributions in kind include staff, land, buildings and equipment. As a general rule, in-kind contributions should be valued on the basis of direct cost or fair value. All in-kind contributions should be robust enough to be tracked and reported to HEFCE through the regular monitoring process. Contributions in kind should have a present value that can be validated. See details of our financial requirements in Annex A.
There are no explicit limits placed on the level of in-kind funding that could be included in a matched funding application. However, the Circular Letter makes it clear that we will give priority to those applications that demonstrate investor buy-in and risk share through cash investment.
16. A premium on cash over in-kind matched funding has been alluded to. What is the match ratio that underlies this?
The match ratio is £1 of matched funding (cash plus in-kind) for every £1 of IoC Grant. This is unaltered by our stated aim of giving priority to cash investment. Our methodology for applying this principle will be simply to give preference where bids score closely in other value measures.
Yes. The project period and the funding period are unlikely to occur at the same time. In order to deliver all of the funding by 31 March 2019, without funding in advance of need, we accept that IoC funds may need to be spent ‘first.’ However, institutions should consider the following:
- Financial sustainability is a key deliverable of the project. If it is unable to demonstrate this within a reasonable period it will not score highly on this element of the assessment.
- The monitoring period for the project will not end until the project ends and all the matched funding is accounted for - with the associated administrative load this places on institutions.
The fund represents the total funding the Cabinet Office is prepared to provide for the project. Therefore, using this project to draw down funds from other government sources is not permissible.
Examples that could apply here are Big Lottery Fund, Department for Communities and Local Government (and by extension, Local Enterprise Partnership) funds, and Education and Skills Funding Agency grants.
That is not to say that entities funded by government sources are ineligible partners. For example, your Local Authority may be involved in the bid and provide matched cash from generated funds.
Sources of grant funding whose priorities are not set by Central Government would be eligible if approved by the awarding body. For example, European Social Fund, European Regional Development Funding or philanthropic grant making trusts and foundations. However, the rule on additionality holds and only ‘new’ funding won for the purpose of the Institute would be eligible – not the redirection of previously awarded funds.
No, HEFCW have already advised that they will not provide special funding and it would not be possible to identify formula funding outside of calling it HEI’s own resources. Indirectly this could be the case (For example, if a Welsh HEI staffing member, notionally part-funded through formula grant, was redeployed onto the project – then this ‘in-kind’ funding would be eligible, but this would not be identified as HEFCW matched).
20. Can other Welsh government funding count as matching funding (e.g. regional development funding)?
Potentially but it would depend on the ultimate source. The Cabinet Office are clear that the fund is the sum total of its contribution – however, European monies or revenues generated through local taxation would not fall into this category.
There are two interpretations of this question.
1. Levy income received by the HEI in payment of fees can be invested in the project without being considered ‘government funding’. As with SLC receipts, these would be classified as generated funds and we would consider this as matched cash from the HEI.
However, we would not expect HEIs to include any fee incomes directly generated by the Institute itself. These would be income streams of the project in its ‘up and running’ phase and, as such, would help evidence financial sustainability. But, as these incomes would not have been available without the Institute they cannot be counted as the matched funding required to bring it into being.
2. No, levy funds held in apprenticeship service accounts cannot be deployed as matched funding for this project. The project objective is not to train the workforce but to provide the infrastructure for doing so. The apprenticeship levy is quite explicitly not for the setting up of apprenticeship programmes, therefore the deliverables of the IoC fund do not constitute levy fundable activities.
In all cases of matched funding in kind, the costs must be directly attributable to the project and be capable of independent assessment and auditing. At the application stage we do not need this level of detail but would expect a brief narrative setting out the basis of valuation so that we are able to perform high level validation activity – essentially confirming that methods of valuation are consistent with the guidance issued.
As things stand, no. Although it responds to a UK-wide skills shortage, the fund is restricted to recipients in England. Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish HEIs can participate in bids but cannot lead them. Eligibility for matching will therefore be determined by the other funding councils, rather than HEFCE, as it will involve their funds being paid over to an HEI sited in England.
HEFCW have been approached and they have advised that there are no funds available and that any Welsh institution wishing to be involved would need to provide their own resources.
No. As long as IoC funding is spent strictly in accordance with status (capital funding only spent on capital, and recurrent only on revenue) then we will consider the matched funding criteria in relation to the totality of the project.
Repayable loans do not represent matched funding as the match needs to be in substance as well as form. The fund is not repayable, therefore the matched funding should not be repayable. Should a preferential loan be provided by a partner then only the waived interest could be included (as an in-kind contribution).
Staffing on-costs are employer's National Insurance and employer's pension contributions. These should be included on an ‘actual’ basis.
Although the apprenticeship levy is calculated as a percentage of the payroll bill it is not an eligible on-cost and should not be included.
Redundancy costs are ineligible.
Best practice dictates that the social value of outputs should always be considered where there is adequate data to do so. At this stage we have no single objective measure that which would reliably enable us to directly compare the social value of competing applications. Applicants who believe they have a robust methodology should include adequate detail in their value for money statement to effectively communicate it to the panel for consideration.
28. Given the aggressiveness of the initial spend profile will any special considerations be made around payment in advance of need?
Although challenging, this fund is no different than any other run by HEFCE (or any other HM Treasury funded body). As such, payment will be made in accordance with the principles laid out in HM Treasury’s ‘Managing public money’ and aligned to project expenditure.
As a general rule this means that we cannot pay in advance of need. That is, funding should be profiled to be drawn down when both of the following criteria are met:
- the goods or service have been or will be received in the period (includes payroll period of service
- the institution has paid for those goods or services or is required to pay within the next 30 days (or normal invoice terms).
Yes. As stated in the Circular Letter, all bids should comply with state aid and other regulations.
Read a HEFCE blog post on state aid: Effective research and innovation needs to take account of state aid
Read a guide produced by Praxis Unico and Auril: State aid in research, development and innovation: A guide for universities
30. How can I make contact with other institutions and organisations interested in developing a bid for funding?
HEFCE has set up an Institute of Coding Group on LinkedIn. The aim of this group is to facilitate initial connections between potential collaborators who are interested in bidding to the fund.
Anyone wanting to join the group should read the terms of reference.
Institute of Coding LinkedIn group terms of reference
Yes, HEFCE will invite a short list of bidders to attend an interview with the external panel members. The interviews will be held at Finlaison House, London in early September 2017. Short listed bidders will be notified during August 2017.
Tuition fees from existing students are, in substance, an institution's own resources and are absolutely allowable as cash matching.
Student fees from curriculum developed as a result of the bid, while important as they evidence sustainability for the project, are not legitimate matched funding. This is because the fund’s object is to establish the institute and bring it to economic maturity, not to operate it. Income generated by the project is a result of the investment, so cannot also be the investment
We expect the lead HEI to put in place adequate governance and oversight arrangements that allow it to robustly project manage and monitor the consortium’s delivery of the proposal. This should include exercising a high level of rigour over ensuring there is no payment in advance of need in any of the partners.
We are not prescriptive about how the lead HEI will manage the inherent risks of a large consortium but we do expect to see these risks identified in the risk register and considered in the governance arrangements.
No, we need to have enough information to understand the business and delivery models and headline level data will not provide us with enough detail.
35. Would HEFCE accept a proposal well below the £20m maximum, for example a £10m proposal with £10m of matched funding?
Yes, we would accept a proposal for less than £20 million as the competition states that the allocation is up to £20 million
36. How long is the duration of the contract that the winning proposal should expect to sign with HEFCE?
HEFCE will not issue a contract but instead will provide a Grant Letter detailing the terms and conditions and the expected duration. We would however expect that the proposed institute continue beyond the initial funding period of March 2019, and have asked proposals to provide evidence of financial sustainability. We will also put in place monitoring and evaluation activities which may continue beyond the initial HEFCE funding period.