million+ comment on Annual Grant letter to HEFCE

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Following the publication by the Department for Businesses, Innovation and Skills (BIS) of the Annual Grant letter, to the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), Professor Michael Gunn, Vice-Chancellor of Staffordshire University and Chair of the university think-tank million+ has described the retention of the Student Opportunity Allocation as a ‘victory for common sense’. The Government’s request to HEFCE to merge the Student Opportunity Allocation with the Access to Learning Fund will, however, result in less funding overall to support disadvantaged students. The Annual letter sets out the funding which the Government will provide HEFCE in the 2014-15 academic year.

The details of the Grant letter and the future of the Student Opportunity Allocation have been the subject of intense negotiations between Coalition Ministers, following revelations of plans to cut the allocation by 60% and abolish it completely in 2015. The revelations triggered a high profile campaign by students and Vice-Chancellors with MPs from all parties tabling a series of parliamentary questions.

Professor Michael Gunn, Chair of the university think-tank million+ said:

“This is a victory for common sense although it is still disappointing that the overall grant is being cut. Higher education should be seen as an investment in the future and not a cost to be constantly trimmed.”

“The balance of responsibility for the funding of higher education has already shifted substantially to graduates and there are very good arguments for Britain to emulate our competitors and invest more in both higher education teaching and research.”

Pam Tatlow, Chief Executive of the university think-tank million+ said:

“The work of many universities to ensure that people from all backgrounds have the opportunity to study for a degree has been a real success story, which has benefitted individuals and the economy. It would have been extremely short-sighted to undermine the progress that has been made.”

ENDS

Notes to Editors

1. For further information and to arrange interviews, contact Gavin Pearson, Head of Public Affairs, million+ on: 020 7717 1659 / 07527 336 990 or email gavin.pearson@millionplus.ac.uk.

2. million+ is a leading university think-tank. More information can be found at: www.millionplus.ac.uk

3. The Student Opportunity Allocation provides additional resource to universities that recruit students from disadvantaged backgrounds. It is distributed on a formulaic basis by HEFCE to universities and colleges based on the profile of the students that they have recruited, taking into account social background and disability.

4. Click here to read the annual grant letter on the HEFCE website.

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