Funding for higher education in England for 2018-19: OfS board decisions

The Office for Students board has confirmed its teaching funding for 2018-19.

The Office for Students (OfS), the new regulator for higher education in England, has agreed budgets for teaching and for other programmes and initiatives for the academic year 2018-19.

The OfS’s chief executive, Nicola Dandridge, said:

‘The OfS works on behalf of all students. The board’s decisions reflect our commitment to ensuring quality and choice, promoting access and participation, and delivering value for money in higher education.

‘The board has agreed a 4 per cent overall increase in cash terms for high-cost subjects, and additional funding to support the government’s health reforms.

‘We are continuing to fund the National Collaborative Outreach Programme, which aims to increase the number of young people from underrepresented groups going into higher education. We are also establishing an Evidence and Impact Exchange, to encourage effective, evidence-based approaches to access and student success.

‘Our emphasis this year is on a smooth transition as we prepare for the full implementation of the new regulatory arrangements in August 2019. During this time we will be reviewing our approach to funding for the longer term.’

The board’s decisions reflect guidance from the Minister of State for Universities, Sam Gyimah, to Sir Michael Barber, the OfS chair. The OfS is asked to fund activity across a range of priority areas, including high-cost subjects and access and participation, as well as supporting the sector to help boost skills and productivity in line with the government’s industrial strategy. There is an overall reduction in cash terms of £22 million for the academic year 2018-19.

The period from April 2018 to July 2019 will be a transitional one as the OfS prepares for the full implementation of the new regulatory framework in August 2019.


1. Allocations to individual universities and colleges will be announced on Friday 11 May 2018. This timetable reflects publishing and other constraints on government bodies during the period leading up to local elections on Thursday 3 May 2018.

2. See the letter from the Minister under Strategic Guidance to the Office for Students: Priorities for financial year 2018-19’.

3. See the letter from Nicola Dandridge setting out the OfS board’s decisions. The board has:

a. Confirmed that there should be no change, as a result of confirmation of financial year 2018-19 funding, to recurrent teaching grant allocations for academic year 2017-18 previously announced by HEFCE. Allocations may still be revised for other reasons, for example if we find that terms and conditions of grant have not been met or that formula allocations were informed by incorrect data from providers.

b. Agreed budgets for and approaches to recurrent grants for teaching and for national facilities and regulatory initiatives for academic year 2018-19. There is an overall reduction in cash terms of £22 million compared with academic year 2017-18, of which £19 million applies to recurrent grant. This, and the priorities that we are seeking to address, have necessitated budget reductions in some areas of activity.

c. Agreed budgets for and approaches to capital grants for financial year 2018-19.

Within the overall reduction of £22 million for academic year 2018-19 there is:

a. A £29 million (4 per cent) overall increase in cash terms for high-cost subjects.

b. Additional funding to support the government’s health education reforms, relating to the phased transfer to the higher education finance arrangements of pre-registration courses in nursing, midwifery and allied health professions and increased undergraduate medical school places. As well as additional funding included in the high-cost subjects allocation, the nursing, midwifery and allied health supplement increases by £8 million.

c. A reduction of £14 million to the postgraduate taught supplement, which is being targeted more towards students on courses that are not eligible for postgraduate masters’ loans.

d. A reduction of £30 million to the premium to support successful student outcomes for full-time undergraduates. The premiums for part-time undergraduates and for disabled students are maintained in cash terms.

e. The continuation of funding for the National Collaborative Outreach Programme to July 2019.

f. A new £20 million Innovation Challenge Fund to support short-term, project-based activity to deliver regulatory and other strategic priorities.

g. The establishment of an Evidence and Impact Exchange to help ensure that interventions, activity and approaches to access, student success and progression are evidence-based and effective.

4. See more information on the new regulatory framework. Until July 2019 the OfS will fund providers under powers that applied to the Higher Education Funding Council for England.

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