Universities Get a Key Role in Helping Economic Recovery; JOHN SPOFFORTH Reports on a Pounds 600m Collaboration between Higher Education and the UK Business Sector
THE Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) has announced funding of pounds 600m over the next four academic years for universities to help with the recovery of the economy.
This follows the Government's decision to continue Higher Education Innovation Funding (HEIF) and to reform it to focus on the highest-performing universities working with businesses.
Allocations will be made to 98 universities that have an established track record in working with business, public sector and not-for-profit organisations.
To gain access to funds, institutions must provide a strategy to be approved by the HEFCE.
Funding will continue to support a wide range of knowledge exchange activities, with individual universities determining the most effective ways to interact with their chosen partners in business or wider society.
Funding will also be given to support staff and student entrepreneurship, including the development of social enterprises.
The funds will build on previous success by the higher education sector in embedding knowledge exchange as a core mission.
HEFCE started funding for knowledge exchange in 1999, and the higher education sector has made steady progress over the last decade in changing its culture and attitudes and developing its capacity to work with businesses and the public.
The Government has endorsed this progress and, despite current economic difficulties, has agreed to continue HEIF at the same level from the last spending period - pounds 150m per year.
Sir Alan Langlands, chief executive of HEFCE, said: "The Government's commitment to maintain HEIF funding from the last spending round, and to ensure stability over four years, is most welcome."
An example of a business that has been helped by this funding is BOCM Pauls, the largest manufacturer of animal feed in the UK.
Its employees are in constant contact with vets and farmers, offering advice on feeding and animal health issues.
Rapid changes in the dairy market have led to larger herds with new feeding regimes and different challenges. BOCM Pauls needed to ensure that sales staff were confident advising on these issues.
They wanted to enhance its existing staff training and development programme to increase knowledge and confidence among its sales team, grow market share and meet the needs and challenges of today's dairy industry. …