|16 May 2005|
Circular letter number 11/2005
For further information contact Alison Felton, tel 0117 931 7078, e-mail email@example.com
Capital funding for directly funded further education colleges
1. This letter sets out the allocations of capital funding for learning and teaching infrastructure, and for investment in e-learning, in further education colleges (FECs) funded directly by HEFCE. Allocations for colleges that are members of HEFCE-recognised consortia led by an FEC are included within the lead colleges' allocations. Colleges should submit their plans for the use of these funds by Thursday 30 June 2005.
2. A total of £22 million is available through these allocations, for activity undertaken from now until July 2006. Capital funding for indirectly funded FECs (including colleges that are members of HEFCE-recognised consortia led by a higher education institution - HEI) was announced in HEFCE 2005/08. Overall our aim is to ensure that both directly and indirectly funded FECs receive comparable benefit from relevant special funding programmes, albeit through different routes, so that there are no perverse financial incentives for FECs to switch between funding routes.
Purpose of the funds
3. The allocations are to help raise the quality of higher education (HE) learning and teaching facilities in colleges, including e-learning resources, to enhance the learning experience of their HE students. We expect colleges to target the funds in ways that will support their strategy for HE most effectively. The funds may be used to contribute to the:
- refurbishment of premises for learning and teaching, or supporting infrastructure
- replacement, renewal or upgrading of equipment, including improvements to internal IT networks
- development of e-learning - specifically for equipment, software and course development costs - where such investment has a demonstrable benefit for learning and teaching over more than one year.
4. The funds should be used for HE provision, and may be subject to audit in the normal way. We recognise, however, that it may be neither feasible nor desirable to construct ring-fenced boundaries between HE and further education (FE): for example, equipment may be used by both HE and FE students. So we look to colleges to adopt a pragmatic approach, whereby the focus of the projects is on HE, even if there are links with, and spin-off benefits at the margin, for FE.
Eligibility and allocation method
5. This is not a competitive bidding process. All directly funded FECs that meet the conditions in paragraphs 7 and 8 below will receive an allocation.
6. Previously, in allocating development funds to colleges, we adopted a formula method for distributing funds that was consistent with our wider policies for funding FECs. These aim to encourage collaboration between institutions, while also supporting diversity of provision. We want to discourage small, isolated pockets of HE, and to help develop stronger HE portfolios in the larger HE providers and where there are networks between HE providers. We have decided to use the same method for distributing these capital funds.
Allocations and payment of funds
7. The allocations for each FEC are shown in Annex A. They are based upon the HEFCE standard teaching resource and widening participation allocations, and, where applicable, the Teacher Training Agency teacher training resource for 2004-05. The total resource has been weighted according to the size of the college, based upon 2004-05 assumed full-time equivalent (FTE) students. Thus colleges with 800 or more FTE directly-funded HE students will receive twice the rate of funds per FTE allocated to colleges with fewer than 800 FTEs. Colleges with fewer than 100 FTE directly-funded HE students can access the funds, provided that they are developing their HE activity in collaboration with other FECs and/or HEIs so that the aggregate HE provision is at least 100 FTE places. We have set a threshold of £1,000 as the minimum allocation for any college.
8. To access the funds, colleges should complete the template at Annex B and return it, by e-mail, to FECcapital@hefce.ac.uk by Thursday 30 June 2005. Also colleges should send one hard copy, signed by the Principal, to Alison Felton at HEFCE by the same date. Provided that the planned capital expenditure supports the college's HE strategy and that the eligibility requirements are met, we will pay the funds in equal monthly instalments from August 2005 until March 2006.
9. We will request a monitoring return from colleges in July 2006, reporting on the use of funds. Where a college is unable to satisfy us that the funds have been used for the purposes described in paragraph 3 above, we will seek to reclaim the funding provided.
Capital funds for directly funded colleges for 2006-07 and 2007-08
10. We have already announced that, from 2006-07, HEFCE and the Learning and Skills Council will provide a jointly administered pot of capital funds for mixed economy institutions - that is, FECs with a significant proportion of HE and HEIs with a significant proportion of FE. Decisions about the distribution of capital funds to other directly funded colleges will need to take account of the arrangements for mixed economy institutions. We expect to announce decisions about the arrangements for capital funds from 2006-07 in December 2005.
Dr Liz Beaty
Director (Learning and Teaching)