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Government funding shortfall impacts on University's Public Programme – University of Reading

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Government funding shortfall impacts on University's Public Programme

Release Date 12 March 2009

The background to the recommendation

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University statement

Following the decision by Government in September 2007 to withdraw a major stream of higher education funding, the University of Reading has completed a year-long project to identify alternative sources of funding for the activities for many of its adult and part-time students.

That review has now reported to the University's Senior Management Board and has concluded that there is no alternative business model which will sustainably fund the public programmes run by the University's School of Continuing Education. The School's Professional Management Programme would be unaffected as it becomes part of the University's Henley Business School and the University is actively seeking a future for the Careers Studies Unit. However, the Senior Management Board has reluctantly recommended that the Public Programmes (Open Programmes and Certificate in Higher Education) admit their last students in this summer term. The final admission to the one and two year postgraduate programmes in the Careers Studies Unit at Reading will be October 2009, during which time we will pursue the option of relocation to another Institute.

Staff at the School of Continuing Education have been told of the recommendation and the University has started the process of contacting those students who may be affected.

In September 2007, the Government announced the withdrawal of funding for students who are studying for a Higher Education qualification that is equivalent to, or lower than, a qualification that they have already been awarded (ELQ). This impacts most heavily on the University's School of Continuing Education public programmes, which are predominantly 10 week part-time open courses, and the Certificate in Higher Education. Until this year, the University has received funding for over 55% of students enrolling on the open programme courses and for 37% of Certificate students.

Professor Christine Williams, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Enterprise), said: "Like many other higher education institutions, we have been wrestling for some considerable time with the issue of how to fund courses that were previously covered by ELQ funding. The hard fact is that the University cannot afford to subsidise these courses to the tune of half a million pounds a year. With staff from the School, we have spent a year looking at different business models, including merger with other departments and increasing course fees but have had to accept that there is no sustainable financial solution.

"The major funding impact of the Government decision falls on the Public Programmes. The Professional Management Programmes and the Careers Studies Unit are affected indirectly, but we are positive that we can achieve a merger between our Professional Management Programmes and part of the Henley Business School. We are actively working to identify an opportunity to transfer the Careers Studies Unit to another Institution and the programme will remain viable for entry to October 2009.

"The University is fully aware of the esteem in which the Public Programme courses are held by many local people - the Review recognised the excellence of the provision of teaching throughout the School. We are committed to ensuring that the University and its staff continue to share its collective knowledge, expertise and enthusiasm for learning with the community. The University is looking at how it can provide language classes through its Institution Wide Language Programme and how it can expand the events programme to provide a more wide reaching service to the local community. "

The recommendation to withdraw the programmes will be discussed at the University's Senate in the summer term and a final decision will be taken by the University's Council in July.

ENDS

Further information from Alex Brannen, Media Relations Manager, University of Reading, on 018 378 7388

Notes to editors:

There will be no further short course on the open programme from the end of the summer term. The 2009 entry into the programmes of the Careers Studies Unit will be the last one. The date by which students currently enrolled on the Cert HE programme will be considered to have completed their course will be discussed and agreed by an Interim Management Group. Students will be supported to finish their courses.

In this year's annual grant to the University of Reading, HEFCE reduced teaching funding by £450,000 as a result of the withdrawal of ELQ funds. This shortfall in income is estimated to rise to £520,000 by 2011/12.

ELQ funding impacts on anyone with a first degree who wants to pursue a second degree or short courses such as evening classes.

Nationally, the Government has withdrawn £100 million in funding for ELQ by 2010/11.

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