6 June 2013

million+ comment on OFFA and HEFCE’s outcomes report for 2011-12 and National Scholarship Programme 2012-13

Following the publication of a joint report from the Office of Fair Access (OFFA) and the Higher Education Funding Council (HEFCE), the university think-tank million+ has said that the importance of the government’s current funding of widening participation and student opportunity funding is confirmed by the report’s findings. There are concerns that this funding will be cut as part of the Treasury’s review of spending in 2015-16. BIS, the Department responsible for universities is yet to reach agreement with the Treasury about the Spending Review.

Professor Michael Gunn, Vice Chancellor of Staffordshire University and Chair of the university think-tank million+ said:

“The importance of government funding for universities to help them support students from the most disadvantaged backgrounds is confirmed by OFFA and HEFCE. The majority of this government allocation was spent by universities on students after they had entered university. It is very important that this remains part of the funding equation. Institutions added to this grant from their own resources and are investing in outreach work to replace the Aim Higher programme scrapped by BIS in 2011 with a saving to the Department of £70 million per annum”.

“Serious doubt would be cast on the Government’s commitment to social mobility if widening participation and student opportunity funding became a casualty of the Treasury’s Spending Review”.


Notes to editors
1. million+ is the leading university think-tank. For more about million+ please see www.millionplus.ac.uk.
2. For further information or interviews with Professor Gunn please contact Pam Tatlow on 0207 717 1655 or 07795645241.
3. The joint OFFA and HEFCE report is retrospective and monitors access agreements and expenditure in 2011-12 (the last year of the old fees system in England) but also reports on expenditure under the National Scholarship Programme (NSP) introduced by the Government in 2012-13. It will be published on Thursday 6 June.
4. Widening participation and student opportunity funding is included in the government’s grant to HEFCE and allocated to universities according to the number of students from disadvantaged backgrounds whom they recruit.
5. The OFFA / HEFCE report confirms that the majority of this allocation is spent by universities on current students i.e. on students once they have commenced their courses. A wide range of support will be provided by universities including additional help with personalised learning and study skills and support to encourage retention and student completion.