1994 Group statement on the HEFCE grant letter

The 1994 Group of leading universities welcomes new measures outlined in the 2012/2013 HEFCE grant letter.

Alex Bols, Executive Director of the 1994 Group, commented:

"We welcome confirmation of the Government's decision to uncap recruitment on ABB students in 2013/14, a move that we have called for since 2011. Universities will now be able to compete for these students freely and openly, ensuring students real choice.

"However, we believe there is room to go further. To ensure that universities have the flexibility to both support student choice and widen opportunity to talented students from diverse backgrounds, the Government ought to uncap recruitment on BBB students as quickly as possible, before phasing out controls in the next few years.

"The Government's further decisions to expand the student numbers margin without cutting core numbers, to add a new 3% numbers buffer, and to relax penalties on over-recruitment are extremely promising. These will ensure that our leading universities have greater flexibility in an increasingly unpredictable student market preventing some of the difficulties of last Summer.

"We are also encouraged by the Government's ongoing commitment to provide institutions with funding for the cost of teaching postgraduate students. However, we have growing concerns surrounding the impact that higher undergraduate debt burdens will have on taught postgraduate student applications in 2015 and urge immediate action on the question of a lack of student loans for Masters students.

"We welcome the additional £700m earmarked for teaching. This will help UK universities cement their renowned teaching excellence. That said, we warn against clawing back these funds from other important areas. The Government must ensure that the UK's leading research base is protected. Groundbreaking research conducted in departments around the UK ensure that we have the edge to compete in a highly competitive global market. This research, often conducted in smaller, specialist institutions, must be properly safeguarded. This will mean protecting the teaching spend on SIVS and specialist institutions.

"Finally, we are concerned that research capital has not been ring fenced. To rival growing international competition, we must continue to renew worn-out parts of our research infrastructure. The UK Research Partnership Investment Fund (UKRPIF) is a start, but the UKRPIF disadvantages world-leading research hubs that do not have the resources to leverage large co-investments from the private sector. If the Government intends to support economic growth, it must ensure research excellence is supported wherever it is found.


Media Contact:

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Notes to Editors

1. The 1994 Group represents 11 leading smaller universities. It was founded to promote excellence in research and teaching. According to the most recent assessments, 88% of its members’ research is internationally recognised (RAE 2008) and 88% of its members’ students were satisfied with their university experiences (NSS 2012). In 2011, its members added £1.7bn to the UK economy, fulfilled over 1800 research contracts for business, and held stakes in 34 spin-out companies.

2. 6 of the top 30 universities in the Guardian University Guide 2013 are 1994 Group members; 7 of the top 30 universities in the Complete University Guide 2012 are 1994 Group members; 11 of the UK’s top-ranked research departments are in 1994 members, and all its members have a top-3 rated department for research excellence.

3. The 1994 Group represents Birkbeck, University of London; the University of East Anglia; the University of Essex; Goldsmiths, University of London; the Institute of Education, University of London; Royal Holloway, University of London; Lancaster University; the University of Leicester; Loughborough University; the School of Oriental and African Studies, and the University of Sussex.

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