Press release

million+ responds to 2016-17 HEFCE Annual Grant Letter

04 Mar 2016

Responding to the publication of the Annual Grant letter from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) which sets out details of the government’s grant to the Higher Education Funding Council for England for the 2016-17 year, the university think-tank million+ has welcomed the ring-fencing in cash terms of research funding for four years and continued investment in the Higher Education Investment Fund (HEIF). However, it has described as ‘disappointing’ the decision to go ahead with a 50% reduction over the spending period in the student opportunity fund.

Professor Dave Phoenix, Chair of million+ and Vice-Chancellor of London South Bank University said:

“The UK still lags behind competitor countries in the amount that the government invests in science and research with impact. However, bearing in mind the government’s wish to reduce public spending, I welcome the ring-fencing of research funding and the continued commitment to the dual support system and the Higher Education and Innovation Investment Fund (HEIF).

“Teaching grant will continue to decline and universities and the Higher Education Funding Council (HEFCE) are being asked to deliver more with less direct government investment. Ministers should now make clear that they will agree to allow fees to rise by inflation while the teaching excellence framework is being developed.

“The abolition of NHS bursaries and the transfer of NHS students to the student loan system also carries some risks and must be fully funded by a transfer of resources from the Department of Health including for the placements that are essential to these courses. 

“The Prime Minister has rightly set challenging goals to improve access to university by those from less advantaged communities, so it is particularly disappointing that the Student Opportunity fund is being cut, and this goal is being undermined. What remains of the allocation must now be targeted at universities which are delivering on this agenda, rather than those which have yet to step up to the plate.”


Notes to Editors

  1. For further information or to arrange an interview, contact Dan Blows on 020 7717 1658 | 07527 336795 or
  2. million+ is a leading university think-tank. More information can be found at
  3. The full Annual Grant Letter can be found on HEFCE’s website here.
  4. Student Opportunity funding is allocated to universities to help with the additional costs of ensuring that students from less advantaged backgrounds access  higher education and succeed in their studies.