The funding of Higher Education in England is to be cut nine per cent in real terms before the general election in 2015, according to the university think thank Million+.

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The recent publication of a letter from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) outlined the distribution of government funding to universities in the 2014/2015 academic year. When taking into account the relaxation of the cap on student numbers which is yet to come into force, Million+ has claimed the allotted money in the letter will amount to a cut in funding.

The HEFCE letter detailed that the capital funding to English universities for the next academic year is totalled at £440 million, which includes £160 million for the third year of the UK Research Partnership Investment Fund. Most teaching grant budgets will be cut by almost six per cent, including the main allocation for new tuition fee regime students in high cost subjects such as maths.

The Department for Business, Innovation & Skills has included a requirement to support an increase of up to 30,000 full time students and support a National Collaborative Outreach Network.

With research and knowledge exchange funding ring fenced, any further savings from funding to higher education will have to come from the teaching grant.
Professor Michael Gunn, Vice-chancellor of Staffordshire University and chair of the university think-tank million+ said: “The Treasury’s decision to lift the cap on student numbers in 2015 has not been backed up with additional resources other than the promise of additional student loans. As a result HEFCE has been required to undertake a difficult balancing act to ensure that a wide range of activities continue to be funded.”

“Given that the Treasury estimated that there could be potentially 30,000 additional students by 2014-15 and there is no inflation proofing of fees or funding, the real reduction is more like 9 per cent.No-one should be in any doubt that cuts of this order will be deeply damaging.”