Select Committee on Education and Employment Minutes of Evidence



  I am writing in response to the question asked at the select committee evidence session on 1 February, about the funding implications to individual higher education institutions of students who change their mode of study from full-time to part-time during the academic year.

  My officials have consulted HEFCE on the issues raised in the transcript of Professor Geoff Peters in his evidence session on 23 January. I attach a note which sets the situation out in full.

  Professor Peters stated that an institution would lose all its public funding if a student changes to part-time study as they would be treated as a "non-completer". As you will see, this is not the case.

Baroness Blackstone

February 2001


  The HEFCE funding mechanism operates on a broad aggregate level. It is based on the previous year's student full-time equivalent (FTE) numbers, plus any additional students allocated as part of a bidding process. This is adjusted only where institutions significantly over-or under-recruit. One student switching from full-time to part-time is very unlikely to affect the amount of grant paid, but a large number of such transfers could in individual circumstances.

  Where a full-time student changes to part-time study before the 1 December (the HESES reference date), or it is known before that date that this will occur, institutions are advised to count the student as part-time for the whole period when making their statistical return to HEFCE.

  The HESES reference date also involves an element of forecasting about what is likely to happen after 1 December. The HEI is asked to forecast "late registrations" and "expected drop-out" rates. Where a change from full-time to part-time study occurs, an HEI would be expected to add the student as an additional part-time late registration and include the student as an expected full-time drop-out. It is important to note that the effect of such a change would be to increase the notional weighted full-time equivalent used in funding allocations, as HEFCE attaches a premium to part-time students.

  Where a change in a student's mode of study occurs after 1 December, which was not previously anticipated by the HEI, no alteration in the level of funding received would occur. Indeed, after the 1 December, the funding mechanism does not require students to complete their course, or even pass a year of study, but merely complete a year of study, as this is seen to provide a financial incentive to retain students, in a way which does not create pressures which could undermine standards.

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