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September 2007/27
Core funding/operations

Responses should be made online by Friday 7 December 2007

Withdrawal of funding for equivalent or lower qualifications (ELQs)
Consultation on implementation

This is a consultation on our plans for implementing the Government's decision to withdraw funding for equivalent or lower qualifications, in line with its new funding priorities.

To: Heads of HEFCE-funded higher education institutions
Heads of HEFCE-funded further education colleges
Of interest to those responsible for: Senior Management, Finance, Governance
Reference: 2007/27
Publication date: September 2007
Enquiries to:

Executive summary (read online)


Consultation document

[ MS Word 143K | Zipped Word 54K | Adobe PDF 68K | Zipped PDF 58K ]

Modelling of the impact on institutions, subjects and mode of study (web only) (Amended on 18 October)

[ MS Excel 282K | Zipped Excel 121K ]

Explanatory notes on the modelling (web only) (Amended on 18 October)

[ MS Word 825K | Zipped Word 80K | Adobe PDF 489K | Zipped PDF 281K ]

Frequently asked questions (updated 11 December 2007)

Executive summary


1.   The Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS) has requested that we withdraw funding for students who are studying for a qualification that is equivalent to, or lower than, a qualification that they have already been awarded. The Government has taken this decision because it believes that teaching such students 'is not...usually as high a priority for public funding as support for students who are either entering higher education for the first time, or progressing to higher qualifications'.1

2.   The Government has requested that we make a number of exemptions to the new equivalent or lower qualification (ELQ) policy, in accordance with Student Fees Regulations and Student Support Regulations. It has also requested that students presently studying for an ELQ should not be affected by the change in policy.

3.   This document consults on our proposals for implementing the ELQs policy.

Key points

4.   We propose to:

  1. Exempt foundation degrees from the withdrawal of funding for equivalent or lower qualifications. This will support our policy to engage employers in higher education, and ensure that a route remains open for students who have already achieved a higher qualification, but who wish to acquire new skills for use in the workplace.
  2. Continue to allocate co-funded additional student numbers for students studying for ELQs, thereby ensuring that the development of funding partnerships between employers and institutions is not impeded by the withdrawal of funding for ELQs.
  3. Provide a targeted allocation to support students studying for ELQs in strategically important and vulnerable subjects (SIVS). This allocation recognises that it is in the public interest to support students who are studying SIVS, even if they are aiming for an equivalent or lower qualification.
  4. Provide a £20 million supplement to the part-time targeted allocation. This is to help preserve part-time opportunities for those entering higher education for the first time by supporting institutions in maintaining part-time courses that are particularly affected by the withdrawal of funding for ELQs.
  5. Where necessary, provide 'safety net' funding to maintain each institution's grant at a comparable 2007-08 level in cash terms. This will ensure that the change in funding is introduced in a controlled manner that gives institutions the chance to adapt to changing student numbers.

Action required

5. Responses to this consultation should be made by Friday 7 December 2007 using the online form. We will be holding consultation events in November 2007; invitations will be sent to all directly-funded institutions and relevant stakeholders. Places will be limited, so early booking is advisable.

1 Letter from John Denham, Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills, dated 7 September 2007.