Newcastle College was on course this week to become the first English further education institution to receive more funds for its higher education teaching than a university.
The college has been allocated pound;11.8 million for teaching in 2009-10 by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (Hefce), just pipping Chichester University, which will receive pound;11.7m and only pound;300,000 less than Winchester University's grant. The college also outstrips the sums given to the London School of Economics (pound;9.9m), the School of Oriental and African Studies (pound;7.4m) and about 30 other HE institutions.
The news was welcomed by principal Jackie Fisher, who said the college aims to become a polytechnic.
Newcastle's HE teaching grant for 2009-10 is up 11.5 per cent on this year's. The increase was due, the college said, to the consolidation into next year's Hefce funding of additional student numbers gained through its Pathfinder and the North East Higher Skills Network activities in recent years.
Ms Fisher described the college's achievement as "business as usual".
"We see this as an acknowledgement for the good work and growth which has been planned and delivered over many years," she said.
Although the present growth rate was unlikely to continue, Ms Fisher said, the college was looking to expand in areas such as science, technology, engineering, mathematics and leadership and management.
"We would like to be a polytechnic as that reflects our mission of being close to employers and delivering work-relevant programmes to assist people develop their careers."
FE colleges have been allocated a total of pound;184.2m for HE teaching in the next academic year. This is nearly 5 per cent up on the pound;175.8m they got in 2008-09 and 25 per cent up on the pound;147.8m in 2004-05. Over the same five years, the total teaching grant for higher education institutions rose by 29 per cent.
Six colleges will get more than pound;5m for HE teaching next year. Together they will get almost pound;50m, nearly 27 per cent of the total HE teaching grant for the FE sector.
In addition to Newcastle, they are: Blackburn (pound;9.6m), Bradford (pound;8.1m), Blackpool and the Fylde (pound;7.9m), Hull (pound;6.2m) and the Grimsby Institute of Further and Higher Education (pound;5.9m).
John Widdowson, principal of New College Durham (pound;4m for 2009-10, up 4 per cent on 2008-09) and chairman of the mixed economy group of colleges that deliver large amounts of higher education, said the latest grants showed the evolution of further and higher education.
"We are seeing the emergence of a distinctive mission for colleges. They are still colleges but with a distinct offer that bridges gaps in provision and offers opportunities to students who would not otherwise have them," he said.
Mr Widdowson said colleges were well placed to deliver more higher education due to their ability to respond to employer needs, the widening participation agenda, and to offer a seamless education from basic skills through higher education to professional accreditation.
A total of 124 colleges will receive grants from Hefce next year. Boston College received the smallest HE teaching grant at pound;25,765. The average grant to colleges was pound;1.5m.
London University gets the least for teaching of any university - just pound;251,075 in 2009-10 - but it functions primarily as an administrative body for the federated institution.
DEGREES OF FUNDING
The 10 FE colleges with the biggest HE teaching grants:
Newcastle College: pound;11,826,260
Blackburn College: pound;9,558,056
Bradford College: pound;8,148,185
Blackpool amp; The Fylde College: pound;7,944,498
Hull College: pound;6,230,723
Grimsby Institute of FE amp; HE: pound;5,862,521
Leeds College of Art amp; Design: pound;4,413,175
Havering College of FE amp; HE: pound;4,358,154
North East Surrey College of Technology: pound;4,245,092
New College Durham: pound;4,025,766.