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HEFCE recurrent research funding to drop £14m in 2013-14

The Higher Education Funding Council for England’s annual grant letter confirms it will spend £14 million less on recurrent research funding in 2013-14 compared with 2012-13.

HEFCE’s research funding will be reduced from £1.587 billion in 2012-13, to £1.573bn in 2013-14, as was predicted in last year’s grant letter.

Research capital funding will, however, increase from £195m in 2012-13 to £221m in 2013-14 and will rise again to £286m in 2014-15. These boosts come as a result of extra funding for capital that has come directly from the Treasury and the subsequent launch of the Research Partnership Investment Fund in May 2012.

The letter was sent to HEFCE by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills on 14 January.

It asks HEFCE to deliver the same efficiency savings as in last year’s letter— £73m in 2013-14 and £104m in 2014-15 from quality related recurrent research funding, to be reinvested within QR.

BIS says it also expects to see continued “restraint” in staff pay, and asks the funding council to find opportunities for further efficiency savings.

Savings must also be made outside QR to the tune of £124m in 2015-16. HEFCE has already identified this target and says it will meet this goal through cloud computing, e-procurement, and shared service pilots between universities.

Funding for teaching is expected to rise from £8bn in 2012-13 to £8.7bn in 2013-14 and £9.1bn in 2014-15. This money comes from both HEFCE’s recurrent grant for teaching and the estimated income from student fees.

The letter thanks HEFCE for working to understand the impact of funding changes on postgraduates, and asks the council to continue reviewing long-term impacts on postgraduate provision.

HEFCE is also told to continue working with research councils to ensure universities reduce the indirect costs of research and postgraduate training, in line with the recommendations made in the 2010 Wakeham review. It says institutions should be encouraged to collaborate more to make these savings, suggesting they share equipment.

The letter also says universities will be given more flexibility in student numbers. In 2013-14, universities will be allowed to recruit up to 3 per cent more than their usual limit would allow without facing financial sanctions.

As anticipated, there will be no cap put on the recruitment of students achieving ABB grades or above from 2013-14. This extends the exception beyond the previous grade threshold of AAB.