22 Jul 2016
The HEFCE consultation focused on arrangements to support widening access, student success and progression to postgraduate taught study.
In the context of limited (and reducing) investment from government in this area, it is sensible to target funding into collaborative arrangements for outreach, and into work that is demonstrated to have success. We think it is unfortunate that the funding to support the national collaborative outreach programme (NCOP) is not new investment from government. However, we believe that any approach taken by HEFCE needs to ensure that those universities that do the most to widen participation and support success for students from areas of disadvantage and / or who are at risk, receive proper support and investment.
The proposals put forward are only part of HEFCE’s approach to reforming and addressing teaching funding, in light of government reductions in investment during the current spending review period. It is therefore difficult to understand fully the impact any proposals will have, as other changes are as yet unknown. In addition, the changes that may come in to effect when the new Office for Students is established, particularly around the new Access and Participation Agreements, may further impact the scope and nature of the financial support available for widening access, students’ success and progression.
There are also other unknown factors that may arise from any changes that may come as a consequence of the vote to leave the European Union, the change in government, and the new departmental structure. We believe, therefore, that HEFCE should consider either delaying any changes to funding to support teaching in higher education. A delayed approach would also enable HEFCE to take into account all factors that may have an impact when making decisions about funding support for students.