You are in :

Business plan

HEFCE Business Plan 2011-2015:
Principles, Priorities and Practices

[ Adobe PDF 549K | Download report as MS Word 912K ]

HEFCE's business plan describes the things we know we have to do, and how we intend to do them. However, during a period of rapid change, key aspects of our work are subject to consultation or awaiting further clarification. We will be forward-looking and flexible, and will review this plan regularly to ensure that it reflects new issues and priorities as they emerge. And we will be resolutely committed to our core values of openness, impartiality, fairness and objectivity.

HEFCE Business plan


The plan is organised around the principles, priorities and practices we set out in our strategy statement.

Our principles of opportunity, choice and excellence will inform all of our work over the coming years.

Our priorities are to continue to support the core academic activities: learning and teaching, research and knowledge exchange.

And the ways in which we will deliver our objectives - our practices - will include:

  • an emphasis on high-quality information
  • a proportionate approach to regulation
  • investment for public benefit
  • a commitment to working in partnership with government, students, universities, colleges, and key national agencies.


The principles of opportunity, choice and excellence will guide our work over the period of this business plan.


People with the potential to benefit from higher education should have the opportunity to do so, regardless of their income or background. Widening participation in this way, extending opportunities to other non-traditional learners and supporting them throughout their higher education journey, brings considerable public benefit. It encourages a higher education offer that is socially and culturally distinctive; and it creates a diverse student population that is essential to vibrant intellectual enquiry and a resilient knowledge economy.

It is also essential that the principle of opportunity extends to postgraduate taught programmes and research students, and that study in England remains open to overseas students at all levels.

HEFCE will work with the Office for Fair Access to monitor the impacts of the new funding arrangements on diverse groups of learners and potential learners, and to ensure that initiatives on student support deliver their objectives.


HEFCE will support a higher education sector that offers a diverse, flexible range of provision, embracing all academic disciplines and building on the wide range of qualifications currently available through full- or part-time study and accelerated learning. We will help potential students to access the information they need to make informed choices about what, where and how to study.


Higher education in England has an excellent international reputation. We need to maintain and build on this reputation. This means a renewed commitment to high-quality provision that is more responsive to student choice, which provides the best possible student experience, and which helps improve social mobility. Equally, we will continue to promote world-leading research through the dual support system, and to fund high-performance knowledge exchange activity.


High-quality learning and teaching, research and knowledge exchange are the essential elements of a successful higher education system. They play a vital role in contributing to social mobility, a strong economy and national wellbeing, and they enrich the lives and experiences of students.

The interests of students must be safeguarded from the very moment they start to make their choices about their higher education. Students should always be assured of a high-quality experience of higher education.

Alongside this, we recognise that the activities of teaching, research and knowledge exchange are interrelated. Having a broad remit that covers all of these activities gives us the opportunity to ensure that policies in each area are complementary. We will harmonise our approaches to funding and regulating each of these activities to ensure that in combination they deliver maximum benefit to students and the public.


Learning and teaching, research and knowledge exchange should be of the highest quality and reach the people they need to reach. We will use information, investment, regulation and partnership, working to support universities and colleges in their work. We discuss each of these briefly below, and in detail in the following pages.

We will:

  • Provide or collate high-quality, accessible information and expert opinion to: inform student choice; ensure that public money is used for the purposes intended; facilitate orderly and efficient regulation; shape future policy; and enable scrutiny by the public and their representatives.
  • Develop and operate an intelligent, proportionate approach to regulation that protects the interest of students and the public while minimising the administrative burden for universities and colleges.
  • Develop an approach to investment that uses public money where necessary to achieve the greatest possible benefit for the public while minimising transaction costs.
  • Work in partnership with other public bodies, universities and colleges, student representatives and representatives of the public, to develop and operate systems for regulation, investment, and the collation and provision of information.

Sector impact assessment

In developing the business plan, we have assessed the impact that publishing the plan will have on the HE sector in terms of regulatory burden, equality and diversity, and sustainable development.

Sector impact assessment of the business plan

[ Download Sector impact assessment of the business plan as Adobe PDF 56K | Download Sector impact assessment of the business plan as MS Word 56K ]