Higher Education Funding Council for England

Higher Education Funding Council for England
Agency overview
Formed 1992
Preceding agency
Type Non-departmental public body
Jurisdiction England
Headquarters Nicholson House, Lime Kiln Close, Stoke Gifford, Bristol, BS34 8SR
Employees c.260
Annual budget £5.1 bn (2014–15)[1]
Minister responsible
  • Jo Johnson, Minister of State for Universities and Science
Agency executives
Parent agency Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
Website www.hefce.ac.uk

The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) is a non-departmental public body of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (previously the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills, then the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills) in the United Kingdom, which has been responsible for the distribution of funding to universities and Colleges of Higher and Further Education in England since 1992.

Most universities are charities and HEFCE (rather than the Charity Commission for England and Wales) is their principal regulator. HEFCE has therefore the duty to promote compliance with charity law by the universities for which they are responsible.


It was created by the Further and Higher Education Act 1992, which also created the Further Education Funding Council for England (FEFC), and replaced in 2001 by the Learning and Skills Council.

Scotland merged its further and higher education funding bodies in 2005.

On 1 June 2010 HEFCE became the principal regulator of those higher education institutions in England that are “exempt charities”. This followed the Charities Act 2006, according to which all charities should be subject to regulation.

Chief Executives


HEFCE staff work within six directorates. Leadership for these key strategic areas is shared between the Chief Executive and directors.


The chief executive of HEFCE is Professor Madeleine Atkins (since 1 January 2014), previously Vice-Chancellor of the University of Coventry. Her predecessor, Sir Alan Langlands is now the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leeds.


In 2016–17 HEFCE will allocate £3.7 billion in public funds [2] from the UK Government to universities and colleges in England to "support them in delivering high quality education, research and related activities".[3] It only funds the institutions and does not give grants or loans to individual students. It also helps develop and implement higher education policy, based on research and consultation.

Charitable regulator

HEFCE is the legal 'principal regulator' for the many UK universities and colleges who are classed as exempt charities. HEFCE describes its role as being "to promote compliance by charity trustees with their legal obligations in exercising control and management of the administration of the charity" and has a memorandum of understanding with the Charity Commission that details how the two will work together.

In addition to distributing both teaching and research funding to higher education institutions HEFCE is also involved with: widening participation; developing links between higher education institutions and business and the community; and enhancing leadership, governance and management within the sector. It provides both a contribution to core funding, and ring-fenced funding for special initiatives, projects and strategic aims.


HEFCE also owns the Unistats website which includes the student satisfaction ratings for different universities and subjects. These satisfaction ratings are compiled from the National Student Survey, and the feedback from students is held within the Unistats website and allows students to compare subjects, universities and UCAS points, see satisfaction ratings from other students and see what the employment prospects are for graduate jobs by subject chosen.

Teaching initiatives

HEFCE has supported a number of teaching initiatives of the past few years. Of the ones listed below, the Higher Education Academy and National Teaching Fellowship Scheme continue to operate, the others are closed.


The Centres for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL) initiative has two main aims: to reward excellent teaching practice, and to further invest in that practice so that CETLs funding delivers substantial benefits to students, teachers and institutions. There are currently 74 centres across the UK and the initiative represents HEFCE's largest ever single funding initiative in teaching and learning with the provision of £350 million over a five-year period.[4]


A Fund for the Development of Teaching and Learning (FDTL) was established in 1995 with the intention of stimulating good teaching and learning practice in Higher Education. Assessment for fund eligibility is undertaken by a teaching quality assessment exercise, and over 164 projects have been given an award since 1995.[5]


The Higher Education Academy, founded in May 2004, is funded by the UK HE Funding Councils (including HEFCE) and institutional subscriptions. It was established as the result of a merger of the Institute for Learning and Teaching in Higher Education (ILTHE), the Learning and Teaching Support Network (LTSN), and the TQEF National Co-ordination Team (NCT).[6]


HEFCE also funds a National Teaching Fellowship (NTF) scheme for those working in England and Northern Ireland. The initiative is administered by the Higher Education Academy and has two separate strands providing individual awards – recognising individual excellence in teaching within the Higher Education sector – and awards for large-scale projects typically undertaken by Higher Education institutions over periods of up to three years.[7]


HEFCE supports the Teaching and Learning Research Programme which aims to promote excellent educational research designed to enhance learning.[8]


The Online Learning Task Force aims to maintain and develop the position of UK higher education (HE) as a world leader in online learning. The task force was set up in summer 2009. It was chaired by Dame Lynne Brindley, chief executive of the British Library.


Doubt has been placed on the ability of HEFCE to effectively regulate the universities for which they are responsible, i.e. to fulfil their obligations under the Charities Act 2006. While they would have the power to effectively impose financial penalties on universities engaging in dishonest practice, there in no indication that they are prepared to do so.[9]


HEFCE is based in Stoke Gifford to the north of Bristol. The Office for Fair Access (OFFA) is based on the same site.

See also


  1. "HEFCE Annual report and accounts 2014-15". Retrieved May 2014. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  2. http://www.hefce.ac.uk/news/newsarchive/2016/Name,108065,en.html
  3. HEFCE (2007). "HEFCE Who we are and what we do". HEFCE. Retrieved 11 March 2008.
  4. HEFCE (2007). "Centres for Excellence in Teaching and Learning". HEFCE. Retrieved 1 June 2009.
  5. HEA. "Fund for the Development of Teaching and Learning". Higher Education Academy. Retrieved 3 June 2009.
  6. HEA. "Higher Education Academy: About us". Higher Education Academy. Retrieved 3 June 2009.
  7. HEA. "National Teaching Fellowship Scheme". Higher Education Academy. Retrieved 3 June 2009.
  8. TLRP. "TLRP: Aims". TLRP. Retrieved 3 June 2009.
  9. Editorial, The corporate responsibility of universities. Nanotechnology Perceptions 8 (2012) 167–170.

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