Communication from VC in March 2009 to all staff
HEFCE Grant Announcement
I am writing to let you know about the University´s allocation of recurrent grant for 2009/10, which has just been announced by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE). The total recurrent grant to the University for next year will be £116.4m (an increase of 1.89% over 2008/09), which was almost exactly what we had forecast in our financial projections.
HEFCE grant is the largest single income stream for the University, providing us with about a third of our income. The total grant is composed of £69m of teaching funding, £45.6m of research funding and £1.8m for HEIF (Higher Education Innovation Fund).
From this you can see that learning and teaching provides the majority of our funding. This element is allocated largely according to our student numbers. Our recruitment of students depends on our overall reputation as well as our teaching and the overall experience students have while they are here. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those of you who teach students or contribute in any way to this important activity.
In December I wrote to all of you about the University of Sheffield´s strong position in the 2008 RAE, the independent peer review exercise to evaluate the quality of research in UK higher education institutions. This assessment is important to our reputation, as well as to our funding. I am pleased to say that Sheffield´s strong performance in the RAE has placed us in the top ten in England for total HEFCE research funding for 2009/10 – an increase of 1.27% over our funding for 2008/09.
We should not be complacent about what this announcement means for our finances. As you are all aware, we face extremely challenging economic times nationally and internationally. Consultancy and research funding from business and charities is scarcer, and we cannot take for granted the level of income from government sources in the medium term.
However, because of the high profile given to the recent Research Assessment Exercise (RAE), we can expect the national press to focus in particular on the research funding allocations. These allocations are based on both quality and volume of research. This year, the quality-related HEFCE funding for research has been spread more thinly across all universities, with the share received by the research-intensive "Russell Group" universities, like Sheffield, having fallen from 65% of the total to 60%. The government has also instructed HEFCE to protect funding for subjects in the fields of science, engineering, technology and mathematics. Within the University, we will decide, through our normal planning processes and involving all Faculties, how to allocate these funds internally.
We welcome the stability which the HEFCE grant funding allocation for 09/10 provides at a turbulent time, but must also plan in the light of the wider economic challenge. So over the coming weeks and months the total HEFCE grant funding will be considered carefully along side other factors in our strategic and academic planning processes for the 2009/10 session. During these planning processes we will be working together to maintain the sustainability of the University as a whole across all disciplines.
I would like to repeat my thanks to all those who were involved in any way in the Research Assessment Exercise. Each of the University´s Faculties has demonstrated world-leading research, with several departments rated top nationally. This vote of confidence in our core academic strengths has recently been reinforced by the award of five prestigious Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council Centres for Doctoral Training, with Sheffield taking the lead on two of these, as well the news that the Arts and Humanities Research Council has awarded the University a Block Grant Partnership for 185 studentships in 17 subject areas across the Arts and Humanities and the Social Sciences.
Once again I wish to convey my appreciation to all staff for your commitment and professionalism. This determination, effort and willingness to rise to a challenge will no doubt be called upon over the coming months, and I have confidence that it is what will ensure our continuing success.
Keith Burnett, Vice-Chancellor