Catalyst Fund

The Catalyst Fund will help us deliver our strategic aims for higher education (HE) across research, teaching and knowledge exchange, in the new fees and funding system. The fund replaces the Strategic Development Fund and is now open to applications.

The fund does not have a deadline and will commit up to £45 million in annual funding.

Working in partnership will also be a key feature of the fund. This will include working with universities and colleges to understand transitional challenges and potential innovations, and enhance excellence and efficiency in HE.

We are also interested to align catalyst funding with other funders and new policies in the support of economic growth.

Aims of the fund

The fund has two major goals, both focussed on delivering the public and collective student interests in HE:

  • To manage transition - to and through the new finance arrangements in HE, so that we protect students and sustain important activities, thereby minimising any unintended consequences.
  • To support key objectives - to promote and enhance activities that address our and/or the Government’s key policy priorities where an innovation could lead to a step change in achievement and efficiency widely across HE.

To achieve best value from our funding, investments through the fund will follow our and government priorities closely. But investments will be based on ideas from, and negotiation with, institutions.

To help proposals focused on supporting key objectives we have set out the key objectives and themes for the fund below. We will update this information periodically as our objectives change.

When will we invest?

We will invest where the investment aims to achieve step changes that would not happen without our support.

We will also invest to deal with any unintended consequences that the new system of HE funding and finance arrangements cannot mitigate.

This might include vulnerabilities in institutions or in strategically important provision, with the aim of protecting the collective student and public interest.

Who can apply?

All higher education institutions (HEIs) can apply directly to the fund.

Further education colleges (FECs) can apply to support projects focussed specifically on activities related to the provision of prescribed courses of HE.

Under current legislation we are unable to fund alternative providers of HE. So these providers are not eligible to apply.

How to apply

To submit a proposal, institutions should contact their HEFCE institutional team in the first instance.

The relevant team can provide details on current priorities and on how to submit a proposal. Institutions should engage in full discussions with the relevant team before they formally submit a proposal.

When ready, formal proposals should be submitted using the guidance and information provided in the bid pack.

There is no deadline for submitting proposals to the Catalyst Fund. We consider proposals at any time, and have an ongoing approval process.

We may on occasion identify a specific topic or policy where we are focussing and ask for proposals to a fixed deadline.

Terms and conditions of funding are available below. We may also set out specific terms and conditions attached to particular themes or projects. We will specify these through the approvals process.

Page last updated 2 October 2012

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