HEW Weekly Wrap Up 14 February 2014

Happy Valentine’s Day 2014! Here’s this week’s weekly wrap up.

News – HEFCE grant letter
The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) has received its grant letter for 2014/15 from the UK Government’s Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). The letter also sets out indicative allocations for 2015/16. The settlement will mean reductions in funding for higher education institutions (HEI) in 2014/15 and again in 2015/16, beyond those accounted for by the switch to publicly funded tuition fees. The UK Government has asked HEFCE to deliver the reductions in ways which protect as far as possible high-cost subjects, widening participation, and small and specialist institutions. HEFCE is asked to continue its work with the Research Councils and others to support internationally excellent research. The ring-fenced settlement for science and research means that recurrent funding is maintained at £1,573million (the same cash levels as 2013/14). Overall, the amount of capital funding for teaching and research will increase in 2014/15 to £440million. The grant letter confirms the UK Government’s provision of a maximum of 30,000 additional student places in 2014/15. The student number control will be removed entirely from 2015/16. Further details are available on the HEFCE website. Universities UK (UUK) provided a response – available on the UUK website. UUK President, Professor Sir Chris Snowden said: […] “We are pleased that, as far as possible, high cost subjects (including STEM), widening participation, and small and specialist institutions are to be protected but we fail to see how the projected cuts for 2014/15, and the more substantial projected cuts for 2015/16, can be delivered without reducing allocations in these areas. […] We need a long term plan to increase research funding above inflation if we are to remain competitive”.

News – Second Supplementary Budget
The Welsh Government published its Second Supplementary Budget 2013/14 on 11 February 2014, reflecting transfers from the UK Government Departments and the impact of the UK Government’s Autumn Statement announced on 5 December 2013. The 2013/14 action (i.e. budget) for higher education (HE) was reduced from £382.3m to £380.8m. The revised HE action reflected in particular a net transfer of £-1.7m to support other budgets in the Education and Skills Main Expenditure Group. According to the Welsh Government, this comprised a transfer into HE of £+2.5m to support the Universities Heads of the Valleys Institute and a transfer out of £-4.2m to the Post-16 Learner Support action for the funding of the Welsh National Bursary Scheme. The revised figure also included an additional UK Government transfer of £168k from the UK Department for Education for funding students in Wales on Initial Teacher Training courses with the Open University.
The following non-fiscal resource transfers were also made:
• A transfer in of £326.5m non-fiscal resource was also made to the Post-16 Learner Support Action from HM Treasury to cover the student loan stock charge and an increase in the Resource Accounting and Budgeting charge rate.
• £1.9m non-fiscal resource was transferred out to the Post-16 Learner Support action within the Education and Skills MEG from the Delivery of Core NHS Services Action to cover payments to Cardiff University (via the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW)) to support medical and dental training.
Non-fiscal resource transfers are accruals measures which reflect the consumption of resources rather than cash flows and are included in budgets to ensure they reflect the full economic cost of activities even through there is not a direct link to cash flows in the relevant period. Non-Fiscal Resource is included in the Welsh Government’s Department Expenditure Limits (DEL) but cannot be used to fund Fiscal Resource DEL spending.

Publications – Europe series in Western Mail
The series of articles coordinated by Welsh Higher Education Brussels about Europe are all now available online using the following links:
Wales in Europe: Helping hand for HE in Brussels finds funding for research needed to drive Wales forward
Wales in Europe: European funding vital for future projects
Wales in Europe: Chance for more students to extend horizons
Wales in Europe: A big role to play in forging future of EU regional policy
Wales in Europe: Call for Welsh university system to make its EU mark

Publications – REF submission data
A summary of Research Excellence Framework (REF) submission data was published on the REF website on 13 February 2014. This shows that there were fewer submissions were made to the REF 2014 than to Research Assessment Exercise 2008 (1,911 compared to 2,363), and fewer outputs submitted per member of staff (3.41 compared to 3.75). The REF outcomes will be published on 18 December 2014

Appointments – LFHE – Associate Director Wales
The Leadership Foundation for Higher Education (LFHE) has announced that Dr Louise Bright is to join as Associate Director Wales. She will be on secondment from her post as Head of Research Office at the University of South Wales, and will begin in post mid-February. Louise originally trained as a scientist, before moving into management. Further details are on the LFHE website.