A one-off £270 million university Modernisation Fund designed to finance 20,000 additional student places and a £450 million backed pledge to guarantee a job or work placement for every 18 to 24 year old who has been claiming Job Seeker’s Allowance for six months are among the highlights of this year’s budget. Amid fears that university would face further cuts this year, Chancellor Alistair Darling announced a long list of measures to secure their future, with a noticeable emphasis placed on the private sector’s role in financing higher education.
In addition to the Modernisation Fund, a University Enterprise Capital Fund has been set-up to exploit the commercial potential of the UK’s world-class research base, as part of the UK Finance for Growth initiative. The £25 million fund will provide early stage funding for the commercialisation of university innovations, including Intellectual Property from their research as well as pioneering internet development, which will receive an additional £30 million in government spending.
The scheme is designed to draw in private funding of at least £10 million, which will join the £350 million Barclays Bank has provided for university construction and improvement works.
This will be complemented by a simultaneous drive to ensure that funds are efficiently allocated. The Modernisation Fund will include £20 million for a Shared Services Pilot Scheme to support growing co-operation between universities in the provision of courses and research.