Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Chief's Departure May Show That Leading Hefce Is Not What It Used to Be: News

Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Chief's Departure May Show That Leading Hefce Is Not What It Used to Be: News

Article excerpt

There are concerns that leading England's funding council is a diminished job after suggestions that Sir Alan Langlands may be leaving the role because of its shrinking importance under the new fees and funding system.

Sir Alan will step down as chief executive of the Higher Education Funding Council for England on 30 September to become vice-chancellor of the University of Leeds, it was announced on 25 March.

His departure comes at an important time for Hefce, which the government has tasked with becoming the sector's chief regulator and "student champion" under its fees and funding reforms.

There are suggestions that Sir Alan felt that the Hefce role was no longer the job he took on in April 2009.

Since then, the coalition government has opted to abolish Hefce-allocated teaching grant in the majority of subjects, replacing it with tuition fee funding routed via the Student Loans Company.

At the same time, the government's failure to introduce a higher education bill means that Hefce has not been given extra powers to underpin its new regulatory role.

A major concern for the funding council is that once the remaining "old regime" students have left the system, it will have no funding levers - and thus scant authority - over institutions that no longer receive teaching grant and win little research funding.

To cover for the lack of legislation, Hefce has also been tasked with undertaking extra work to come up with regulatory fixes - such as considering ways to attach new conditions to SLC funding. …

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