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Higher Education Institutions

Volume 451: debated on Tuesday 7 November 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills which public bodies for which he is responsible are involved in the (a) regulation, (b) funding and (c) administration of higher education institutions; and what the (i) annual budget and (ii) total staff numbers are of each. (97323)

There are five different bodies involved. The budgets allocated to each body cover all of their activities, including both programme funds, which consumes the overwhelming proportion and their administrative running costs.

The principal funding body for higher education institutions is the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE). HEFCE funding for HE institutions includes resources for the management and administration by the institutions themselves. The budget HEFCE was allocated for 2006-07 was £6,564 million and the current staffing complement is 245 full-time equivalent.

The Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA) provides funding to higher education institutions for a number of activities to support the agency’s objectives, in particular for initial teacher training. The budget allocated for the agency for 2006-07 was £717.1 million and the current staffing complement is 322 full-time equivalent.

Only a very small proportion of the budget or staff of the remaining three bodies, Ofsted, the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) and the Adult Learning Inspectorate (ALI), either funds HE institutions or funds activity to regulate them.

The total budget allocated for Ofsted for 2006-07 was £204 million and it has 2,100 staff. The budget allocated to the LSC for 2006-07 was £10,458 million for 4,085 staff. The LSC is currently undertaking a radical restructuring exercise designed to streamline the existing organisation at both national and local level, which is expected to lead to significant savings in running costs.

ALI’s inspection remit, including that which affects the regulation and administration of HE institutions, will be taken over by new Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills from April 2007, but the total budget they were allocated for 2006-07 was £24 million, with 221 staff.

We closely monitor all of these bodies to ensure their running costs are kept to the minimum consistent with cost effective operation—and require them to minimise the regulatory burden they impose on HE institutions.

In addition, the Higher Education Regulation Review Group (HERRG) has recently been reappointed for a further two year period; HERRG is the independent gatekeeper group for higher education. It comprises senior managers and administrators from HE institutions, with an independent chair, and works with Government Departments and their agencies to review all the bureaucratic demands they make on HE institutions, to help ensure these are the minimum consistent with effective accountability.