Evaluation of two HEFCE funding initiatives: minority subjects and Chinese studies
HEFCE commissioned Universitas consultants to evaluate the success of two HEFCE funding initiatives - Minority subjects and Chinese studies. The minority subjects initiative attempts to provide extra support for rare subjects and the Chinese studies initiative was to support a subject of strategic importance.
HEFCE welcomes these timely reports. The evidence in them will feed into our advice to the Secretary of State on how and when intervention would be appropriate to support subjects of strategic importance.
Minority subjects initiative
The minority subjects initiative provides additional HEFCE funding to HEIs to support subjects that were judged to be at risk of disappearing because of low student numbers. The evaluation found that the initiative had been successful in that 55 out of the 59 programmes funded were still running in broadly the same shape as in 1999. However, minority subjects funding may have encouraged a degree of academic isolation for the units supported, which may not, over time, lead to sustainable outcomes for the departments concerned.
Chinese studies initiative
The Chinese studies initiative arose from a 1999 review of Chinese studies in the UK (HEFCE 99/09). The report argued that, in view of the challenge and opportunity that China represented for UK business, measures should be taken to stabilise and embed provision in a limited number of existing centres of Chinese studies.
The evaluation found that the initiative had produced mixed results. Some HEIs had developed expanded Chinese studies programmes that were recruiting well. Chinese studies funding has also enabled HEIs to invest in new cross-disciplinary programmes and research - much of which is ongoing and sustainable. This work does suggest, however, that an intervention of this kind needs to be based on robust evidence of employer and student demand.
Last updated 10 February 2005