Office for Students seeks views on how its funding can best support learning and facilities for students

The Office for Students (OfS) has today launched a call for evidence for views on how it applies its powers to distribute funding to universities and colleges in England.

piggy bank wearing mortar board hat, to represent funding for universities

Each year, the OfS distributes around £1.4 billion through the Strategic Priorities Grant, which supports teaching and related activities at universities and colleges. The OfS also distributes capital funding to support the building and renovation of facilities, including laboratories, specialist teaching suites and lecture halls, to support students’ education. Recently, the OfS allocated £450 million of capital funding for the 2022-23 to 2024-25 financial years.

The OfS’s existing method of distributing funding recognises the additional costs to universities and colleges that may be associated with teaching particular courses or supporting students, such as those from disadvantaged backgrounds, to access and succeed in higher education. The approach also accounts for strategic priorities in higher education, including supporting priority subjects and helping students to continue and complete their studies, and go onto successful outcomes after graduation.

Through the call for evidence, the OfS is keen to hear how its approach to distributing funding can support universities and colleges to deliver a high quality education experience for students. The call asks:

  • What should the OfS be seeking to achieve with the funding it allocates, and how might its funding adapt in the future?
  • What factors should the OfS consider when making judgements about the strategic priority of a course or subject area?
  • Are there areas of important provision that are not currently supported by OfS funding, that could be considered in future?

The OfS also wants to hear how its funding powers should be applied to support capital investment, national facilities and specialist higher education providers, with respondents being asked:

  • What are your views on these types of OfS funding?
  • What is the impact of these types of OfS funding?

Commenting on the call for evidence, John Blake, Director for Fair Access and Participation at the OfS, said:

‘The OfS is responsible for distributing millions into universities and colleges each year to support students’ learning, strategically important courses and specialist higher education providers. We recognise that the higher education landscape has changed a lot in the years since our current approach was established.

‘Could our funding be better targeted to support equality of opportunity for students? What specific types of work are best supported by the OfS’s funding? And importantly, what’s the impact of our funding on students’ experiences? We want to hear from staff at universities, colleges and students’ unions, as well as others who are interested or impacted by these funding decisions, to share their views. These responses will provide important insight to ensure our approach to distributing this funding meets our priorities, and those of the higher education providers it supports, to deliver a high quality education experience for all students.

‘We will carefully consider all the responses and evidence we receive as we look to develop our future approach.’

The call for evidence closes on 23 May 2024.

Read and respond to the call for evidence


  1. Each year, the government writes guidance for the OfS on the strategic aims of the funding to be distributed by the OfS. The Strategic Priorities Grant is distributed to universities and colleges in the OfS’s Approved (fee cap) category. Read the Strategic Priorities Grant letter that set out guidance for the OfS for the 2023-24 financial year. 


Published 14 March 2024

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