The Chancellor has today announced extra student places for undergraduate study. 15,000 full-time and 5,000 part-time funded places will be made available in 2010/11 through an additional £270m in funding distributed via HEFCE through a new Higher Education Modernisation Fund. This includes £20m for value for money and shared services work. The deal for places will involve achieving efficiencies to provide for 2011 teaching delivery.

Professor Ruth Farwell, Chair of GuildHE and Vice Chancellor of Buckinghamshire New University commented: “GuildHE is delighted to hear that there will be more funded opportunities for students this summer. This recognises the scale of demand for places this year and the importance of higher education in giving young and old a better chance in a tough economic climate.

GuildHE members’ institutions have some of the highest growth in applicants and they will be keen to respond positively to this initiative to give those prospective students the opportunity they crave. Having pressed, alongside Universities UK, for extra places, recognising it was likely to be widening participation students who might lose out in the domino effect of tightening entry requirements, GuildHE is very pleased that this interesting solution has been found.

The equally significant promise from Treasury that these numbers are accompanied by additional student support funding makes this a serious response to the scale of student demand. It will be critical, however, for these proposals to be endorsed by any future Government as soon as possible so that institutions can plan their academic provision. The expectations on the HE sector in response are demanding and understandable. There is potential for some innovative ideas to come forward from the HE sector to improve its sustainability and readiness to continue delivering high quality education despite changing times.”

Commenting on the proposals, Alice Hynes, GuildHE CEO, said: “HEFCE will need to ensure that, as it constructs the bidding process for these places, it recognises the areas of the economy that are set to grow, as well as the context provided by ‘New Industry, New Jobs’.  HEFCE must ensure it can respond both to the areas of high demand and the needs of society. It is critical that there are no narrow interpretations of STEM in establishing criteria for bidding which fail to respond to the financial growth we need to be generated by the creative industries for the economy and the skills growth we need from the food and land-based industries as we face challenges of climate change.

“There is a fair challenge to the HE sector to find ways to secure value for money and pump prime new ventures to achieve efficiencies. This is a genuine chance for institutions looking into a difficult future to get themselves better prepared for what will clearly be tougher times ahead. HEFCE may find more can be achieved for the sector as a whole with small grants than with a small number of grandiose projects.”

For more information, please contact:

Alice Hynes, CEO GuildHE

tel. 020 7387 7711


Notes to editors

1. The Budget Speech and Report

2. GuildHE is a recognised representative organisation within the higher education sector.

3. GuildHE members lead institutions which emphasise a strong focus on teaching alongside research, are among the most dynamic and fastest-growing institutions in higher education.