‘Worth for cash’ evaluation of £1.3bn college funding

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Universities in England are to face a “worth for cash” evaluation of how £1.3bn per 12 months of funding would possibly give extra help to “precedence” topics.

Greater training watchdog the Workplace for College students (OFS) is known to be launching the evaluation within the spring.

However it won’t think about tuition charges – with the federal government set to publish a separate response to calls to chop charges.

Universities UK warns it should matter “how a lot” funding is left after the evaluation, in addition to how it’s allotted.

The Conservative manifesto has promised to sort out what it calls “low-quality programs” in college – and the evaluation will look at how funding could be focused for precedence topics.

Whereas most college funding is delivered by means of tuition charges, the federal government nonetheless gives a big direct stream of grants.

This contains subsidies for topics which are dearer to show, similar to drugs, science and know-how.

There may be additionally cash to enhance entry to greater training for deprived children.

At current the funding is broadly distributed, to greater than 300 greater training suppliers.

However the future allocation and focus of the cash is to be examined by the OFS evaluation.

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The Russell Group, representing a number of the UK’s main analysis universities, says the annual grants signify 13% of funding for undergraduate locations.

The college group has raised considerations about these grants being reduce, arguing that funding for a lot of programs is already stretched.

A separate session has already been launched on £70m reductions to subsequent 12 months’s educating grant.

However the OFS evaluation has been backed by Training Secretary Gavin Williamson.

“I’m strongly in help of this transfer to judge worth for cash and to think about one of the best ways to focus on grant funding to the upper training sector in future,” mentioned Mr Williamson, in a letter to the OFS earlier this month.

The training secretary has instructed the OFS he desires to prioritise help for the federal government’s industrial technique, which goals to spend money on “expertise, industries and infrastructure”.

There may even be a push for more practical methods to spend cash allotted for recruiting deprived college students, and help for specialist establishments.

However Jo Grady, chief of the College and Faculty Union, criticised how worth for cash was primarily based on an “obsession with flimsy metrics” round graduate earnings.

“What can future employment or earnings potential actually inform us about educating high quality?” she mentioned.

However what stays unknown is how the OFS evaluation will mix with the federal government’s promised response to Philip Augar’s evaluation, which advisable decreasing tuition charges from £9,250 to £7,500 per 12 months.

The evaluation, commissioned by the previous prime minister, Theresa Might, additionally known as for additional training and expertise to have a fairer share of funding.

A spokeswoman for Universities UK warned that any adjustments to the educating grant or charges may depart a “funding hole”.

“The elemental evaluation will cowl ‘how’ educating funding will probably be allotted – what may even matter is ‘how a lot’ educating funding will there be, significantly if the federal government is minded to make any adjustments to charges,” mentioned the spokeswoman.

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