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Colleges snap at heels of universities for HE grants

HEFCE figures show a steady expansion of higher education provision in FE institutions

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HEFCE figures show a steady expansion of higher education provision in FE institutions

The top five college providers of higher education will receive teaching grants approaching pound;50 million this year, according to the latest figures.

Allocations from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) reveal a rise in HE teaching grant for the big five colleges of almost 5 per cent, from pound;43.7m for 200910 to nearly pound;45.8m for 2010-11.

The Association of Colleges said average HE teaching funding for colleges would rise by 2.2 per cent in 201011 to nearly pound;196m. The average rise across universities and colleges is 0.4 per cent.

Two of the five, Newcastle and Blackburn, boast teaching budgets bigger than three universities. And many of the biggest providers predict further growth.

Newcastle College is the biggest HE provider in FE, with a 201011 teaching budget of nearly pound;11.5m. Although down on an unmoderated 200910 total of pound;11.8m, Newcastle still trumps the universities of Winchester (pound;11.2m), York St John (pound;10.7m) and Cranfield (pound;10.4m).

Blackburn has seen its teaching grant rise by around 10 per cent on the unmoderated 200910 figure, jumping from pound;9.6m to pound;10.5m. Three other colleges get more than pound;7m: Blackpool and The Fylde (pound;8.7m), Bradford College (pound;8m) and Grimsby Institute of Further and Higher Education (pound;7m).

Ian Clinton, Blackburn's principal, said the college, which opened a university centre last September, provided the only HE outlet in an area with a large Asian population which generally prefers to study locally.

"We brought in another 500 full-time students last September and already we are up 155 per cent on our applications this year. I anticipate that our HE provision will grow by another 30 to 40 per cent over the next three or four years," he said.

Because little of its HE is franchised from a university partner, the college can charge tuition fees for the first time this year and keep the income.

Pauline Waterhouse, principal of Blackpool and The Fylde, said that her HE full-time equivalent (FTE) numbers had risen from 930 in 2005 to 1,850 this year. Like Blackburn, the college opened a university centre last year and does not rely on university franchising.

"When we developed our HE strategy we were looking at growth of up to 2,500 FTEs by 2013, but it is subject to what Hefce can afford," Ms Waterhouse said.

Hugh Callaway, executive director of marketing and student recruitment at Grimsby Institute, said that HE provision had been a priority in an area where the nearest universities were miles away.

"HE is an increasingly important part of the overall business, and although the FE element remains much bigger, HE will continue to grow," Mr Callaway said.

Biggest HE in FE earners

Total grant 201011 (pound;)

  • Newcastle College 11,468,619
  • Blackburn College 10,541,445
  • Blackpool College 8,693,505
  • Bradford College 8,037,083
  • Grimsby Institute 7,031,528
  • Hull College 6,032,822
  • Worcester College 5,702,469
  • Manchester College 5,613,922
  • Havering College 4,561,968
  • Leeds College of Art 4,376,564.

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