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26 May 2011

£600 million for universities to speed the UK economy further into growth

HEFCE announced today (26 May) funding of 600 million for 2011-12 to 2014-15 for universities to help with the recovery and growth of the economy (See note 1). This follows the Government's decision to continue higher education innovation funding (HEIF) and to reform it to focus on the highest-performing universities working with businesses.

Allocations will be made to 98 universities with an established track record in working with business, public sector and not-for-profit organisations. To release their funds, institutions must provide a strategy to be approved by HEFCE.

Funding will continue to support a wide range of knowledge exchange (See note 2) activities, with individual universities determining the most effective ways to interact with their chosen partners in business or wider society. Funding will also support staff and student entrepreneurship, including the development of social enterprises.

The funds will build on success to date by the higher education sector in embedding knowledge exchange as a core mission. HEFCE started funding for knowledge exchange in 1999, and the higher education sector has made steady progress over the last decade in changing culture and developing capacity to work with businesses and the public and third sectors (See note 3). The Government has endorsed this progress and, despite the current tighter funding times, has agreed to continue HEIF at the same level from the last spending period (150 million per year).

Below we provide examples of successful initiatives, supported by current HEIF to address the challenges of the economy and involving Coventry University, Imperial College London, Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design, the London College of Fashion, and the Universities of Hull, Liverpool, Manchester and Nottingham.

Sir Alan Langlands, Chief Executive of HEFCE, said:

'The Government's commitment to maintain Higher Education Innovation Funding from the last spending round, and to ensure stability over four years, is most welcome. HEFCE has been actively supporting knowledge exchange since 1999 and aims to make this a broad agenda that unlocks potential from the higher education sector to help our economy and society. It is, though, individual leaders of universities, and their staff, who have carried us through to success over the last decade. Universities will have a vital role to play in economic recovery and growth and achieve a significant return on this important public investment, with the aim to improve in future on the return achieved to date on HEIF of every 1 achieving a return of between 5 and 7.'

David Willetts, Minister of State for Universities and Science, said:

'It is vital for our future economic growth that business and universities work closely together. That is why we are maintaining Higher Education Innovation Funding over the spending review period, providing further incentives for universities to work better with business. It is a vote of confidence in our higher education institutions and a major investment in growth.'

David Eyton, Global Head of Research and Technology at BP, said:

'Global companies like BP recognise the UK's research and higher education strengths and our R&D and graduate recruitment strategies reflect this. We need to work together to grow the wealth and jobs of this country. I welcome then the Government's endorsement of the importance of relationships between universities and business through providing 600 million to support HE innovation.' (see note 4).

Examples of successful initiatives

[ Download Examples of successful initiatives as Adobe PDF 86K | Download Examples of successful initiatives as MS Word 69K ]


  1. 'Higher Education Innovation Funding 2011-12 to 2014-15: Policy, final allocations and request for institutional strategies' (HEFCE 2011/16) discusses in more detail: the policy context to HEIF; the final funding method; final allocations to HEIs; call for institutional strategies; and implementation timetable.
  2. 'Knowledge exchange' refers to the process by which HEIs' knowledge, expertise and intellectually linked assets are constructively applied beyond HE for the wider benefit of the economy and society, through two-way engagement with business, the public sector and not-for-profit organisations.
  3. For more details see 'Evaluation of the effectiveness and role of HEFCE/OSI third stream funding: Report to HEFCE by PACEC and the Centre for Business Research, University of Cambridge' (HEFCE 2009/15).
  4. The Council for Industry and Higher Education (CIHE) is establishing a Task Force to consider how to unlock further the value of the UK Research Base, co-chaired by Professor Shirley Pearce, Vice-Chancellor of Loughborough University and a member of the HEFCE Board, and David Eyton, Global Head, Research and Technology, BP, and a member of the CIHE Council.
  5. The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) promotes and funds high-quality, cost-effective teaching and research to meet the diverse needs of students, the economy and society. We develop policies, distribute funds, safeguard quality and assure the proper stewardship of public money. We work closely with universities, colleges and other partners to achieve excellence and impact in education and research, and to provide opportunities for all those who have the ability to benefit from higher education. For the academic year 2011-12, HEFCE will distribute £6,507 million of public money to 130 universities and higher education colleges, and 124 directly funded further education colleges.