30 Apr 2021
MillionPlus has responded to the consultation on the distribution of capital funding for financial year 2021-22. The Office for Students (OfS) received a statutory guidance letter from the Secretary of State for Education, which announced capital funding of £150 million for the financial year (April to March) 2021-22.1 The guidance letter sets out the government’s priorities in distributing this capital funding to higher education providers registered in the Approved (fee cap category). The consultation seeks views on a new method for the distribution of capital funding via a bidding process rather than the formulaic approached used previously.
MillionPlus argues that there are limitations with using a bidding process approach. A bidding process that is open to over 400 providers to apply for a share of £130m is likely to be incredibly inefficient, requiring time and resource within those providers to write bids and time and resource by OfS staff to assess bids. It will inevitably be oversubscribed, meaning that good projects either miss out on funding, or have the application amount downrated. Also, bidding processes tend to penalise smaller institutions that don’t have large teams to manage funding rounds, as is often observed with research council application processes. A formulaic approach, with clear terms and conditions on how funding can be used, would avoid both these issues.