|To:||Heads of HEFCE-funded higher education institutions
Heads of HEFCE-funded further education institutions
Business planning leads for Partnerships for Progression
|Of interest to those responsible for:||Widening participation, Funding|
|Publication date:||November 2002|
|Enquiries to:||e-mail email@example.com|
1. This document seeks views on whether the Council should apply for European Social Fund (ESF) funding for 2003 to 2006, on behalf of English higher education institutions and directly HEFCE-funded further education colleges. The ESF may provide funding for widening participation initiatives, match-funded from at least two HEFCE sources: the widening participation allocation, and the Partnerships for Progression (P4P) initiative (see HEFCE 2002/49).
2. Many institutions already receive funds from the ESF through the national and the regional routes. There is now an opportunity for us to bid on behalf of the sector to draw down additional funds from the central route in 2003 to 2006. These funds would relate to Objective 3, which we believe has a good fit with many of the priorities of widening participation.
3. The ESF provides up to 45 per cent of the total project costs, and the remaining 55 per cent must come from other sources as matched funding. Some of the funds may be used to offset directly related administration costs.
4. All proposals must meet the criteria for ESF funded projects, and comply with rules and regulations on the use of Objective 3 funding. Systems for monitoring ESF projects are more onerous than the usual HEFCE monitoring systems, and would apply to the ESF funding and any HEFCE contribution.
5. We are asking higher education institutions (HEIs), directly HEFCE-funded further education colleges (FECs) and business planning leads of P4P partnerships to state whether they would like to apply for ESF funds, and if so, what activities they would like to use ESF funding for. We also seek views on the risks associated with ESF funding.
6. Our Board will consider the responses to the consultation in February 2003. We expect to issue an invitation for expressions of interest in the fund only if a number of conditions are met. These are: the responses to the consultation should be positive, the identified risks should be adequately mitigated, and the Government's spending review settlement is sufficient both to support planned spend and to make the burdensome accountability required worthwhile. If these conditions are not met we will not issue an invitation, and will not apply on behalf of the sector for ESF funding.
7. If the conditions are met, the invitation to express interest will be sent to all HEIs, directly-funded FECs and business planning leads for P4P, whether or not they responded positively to the consultation. Once we had received these expressions of interest, we would then deliver a consolidated bid to the HEFCE Board for agreement, and then to the ESF Division on behalf of the sector, for ESF central funding in May 2003. If the bid was successful, funding could then flow from August 2003 to July 2006.
8. We invite responses to the following questions, using the template provided at Annex A:
- Having considered the advantages and disadvantages, do you consider that there is an overall benefit in accessing additional ESF monies to support institutional widening participation strategies and P4P business plans?
- If you consider that there is an overall benefit, what risks to your institution or partnership do you see in applying for ESF funding, and how could these be mitigated? What arrangements should we put in place to support the scheme?
- If you consider that there is an overall benefit, what activities would you consider submitting an expression of interest for? What benefit would be delivered? Roughly what amount of funding would you seek to match? (Please state the source of the matched funding - HEFCE widening participation allocation; P4P funding; and/or other HEFCE funding).
- Does your institution or partnership already access ESF funding for widening participation activity? If so, what is the source of matched funding you currently use, across which years?
- Funds may not be used to support beneficiaries resident in an Objective 1 region (Merseyside, South Yorkshire and Cornwall). Should we provide funds for work with beneficiaries in Objective 1 areas, given that this would need to be top-sliced from the HEFCE widening participation funds as a whole?
9. Please note that we are not at this point seeking formal expressions of interest or detailed information about projects for which ESF funding is sought.
10. Responses should be sent to the Council by 1700 on Friday 31 January 2003. Please send to: firstname.lastname@example.org