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29 February 2012

Student number controls and teaching funding: consultation on changes for 2013-14 and beyond

HEFCE has published the second stage of a consultation on future arrangements for allocating funding for teaching in universities and colleges and implementing government policy on student number controls.

The consultation follows changes to the funding of higher education in England set out in the Government's 2011 White Paper, 'Students at the heart of the system' (Note 1). It will inform HEFCE’s approach to teaching funding and student number allocations from 2013-14 onwards (Note 2). The first stage of the consultation focused on changes to funding and student numbers for 2012-13.

HEFCE's funding for teaching will reduce significantly over the next few years. In future, funding for teaching will take account of the choices made by students and will be allocated through publicly funded tuition fee loans. We believe that a combination of fee income and continuing HEFCE funding, focused on the needs of students, will enable higher education institutions to maintain or increase their teaching income over the next few years.

HEFCE funding will be targeted on seven key areas to ensure a high-quality educational experience for every student:

  • We will continue to fund high-cost subjects where tuition fees do not cover the cost of provision (Note 3).
  • We will give additional funding to postgraduate students to ensure that they are not disadvantaged by the new arrangements (Note 4).
  • We will continue to support flexible provision, including part-time, accelerated undergraduate and intensive postgraduate provision.
  • We will continue to support the additional costs of providing higher education in London.
  • We will maintain our commitment to supporting student opportunity – promoting fair access, widening participation and meeting the needs of disabled students.
  • We will support higher education institutions that have distinctive forms of high-value, high-cost provision, including conservatoires and specialist colleges of art and design.
  • The consultation sets out a new approach to strategically important and vulnerable subjects (SIVS), building on existing commitments and good practice.

The consultation also invites views on the operation of the student number control from 2013-14. The Government will be issuing further guidance to HEFCE on student number controls, and we will consult on this when we receive it.

Sir Alan Langlands, HEFCE’s Chief Executive, said:

'Our proposals put students first. We will invest on their behalf to ensure that universities and colleges have the funding they need to support excellence and diversity in learning and teaching, and we will work with others to ensure that people with the potential to benefit from successful participation in higher education have the opportunity to do so.

During a period of significant change in higher education funding arrangements, our overarching aim is to ensure a smooth transition to the new arrangements, minimising disruption for students and institutions while encouraging innovation and dynamism.

Higher education must continue to be enriching and inspiring for students, contributing to social, cultural and economic development and building on our strong international reputation.’


  1. The Government's White Paper, 'Higher education: students at the heart of the system', is available on the BIS web-site.
  2. The consultation is available on the HEFCE web-site. The closing date for responses is 25 May 2012. Consultation events will be held on 28 March, 4 and 16 April.
  3. The consultation proposes an allocation for subjects in price groups A to C with average costs above £7,500. ('Price groups' are broad groupings of subjects which attract different rates of funding according to the level of resource they require. Price groups A to C include subjects with a clinical, laboratory, studio or fieldwork element which are more expensive to teach than classroom-based subjects.) There are some cost centres within price group C with costs above our proposed threshold, and for these we propose to provide a small supplement.
  4. The consultation proposes that universities and colleges should receive the same rate of grant for students on taught postgraduate courses as that available for undergraduates, and an additional sum of around £1,100 per postgraduate student in price groups A, B and C.