Russell Group comment on higher education funding

The Russell Group has issued a press statement commenting on the HEFCE funding allocations for 2012/13.

Dr Wendy Piatt, Director General of the Russell Group, said:

"It's right that at a time of very limited resources, HEFCE will be focusing research funding on those institutions most capable of delivering excellence and of maintaining the UK's place as a global leader in higher education. Research students benefit most from the environment in high quality research institutions where they are able to work with world-class academics across a wide range of disciplines.

"Funding for teaching is being progressively cut which is why increased graduate contributions are so important to replace what universities are losing in teaching grant.

"Strategically important disciplines such as languages, engineering, chemistry and physics must continue to be properly funded as the fee income alone cannot cover their high costs. Russell Group universities have a high proportion of students in these subjects which are extremely important to the future success of the UK's economy.

"HEFCE's continuation of funding for some taught postgraduates is a welcome recognition of the very limited funding available for postgraduate education.  But we would like to see the Government address growing concerns about financial support for postgraduate students.

"Despite HEFCE's projections it's too early to say how the new approach to student numbers controls in 2012-13 will affect the final numbers of students entering any individual university.

"However, we recognise the high cost of the student support package requires HEFCE to have some student numbers controls and we believe that maintaining the quality of courses is more important than increasing overall student numbers.

"But within some overall controls, the best and most popular universities should be able to expand if they choose and in future years we would like to see the threshold for exclusion from the student number controls lowered to ABB - possibly for specific subjects. This would be a sensible move which should enable more well-qualified students gain a place on one of their preferred courses.

"However, we do not believe that the redistribution of places through HEFCE's 'core and margin' policy will do anything to improve quality or enhance student choice and we hope it will not be repeated for 2013-14."

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