DfE funding to support expansion to meet demographic demands

It's not as good for the sector as you might think

David Kernohan is Acting Editor of Wonkhe

We’re on a rising demographic wave – and this has implications for education provision.

We are looking a desperate shortage of space in all phases of education, so post-compulsory providers have the opportunity to bid (with a new deadline) for DfE funds to meet projected demand in 2023-24 as part of a rolling series of opportunities.

The focus is particularly on building works – actual new space in the wider sense – to meet the needs of local learners. There’s up to four million pounds per project. The local focus means that this is very far from the old HEFCE model of places based on a desire to grow, we are focused on a need to grow.

It’s not available for universities though. That would be silly.

Invisible hand

Despite the requirements of the Post-16 Capacity Fund explicitly talking about looking for projects that will:

improve the destinations for young people to move into higher education or employment

it seems that for the required places in the higher education sector to accommodate these newly qualified young people we turn once again to the invisible hand of the market. We saw signs in the last UCAS round that many parts of the sector are at or above capacity, and even without new capacity in the providers that feed in new applicants it does appear (given the stagnating unit of resource and the tightening of capital markets) that there will be further students unable to find places, unable to find accommodation, and/or facing a worse quality experience in years to come.

The news that the part of the education sector that feeds in to higher education is needing support to expand should be offering a massive clue that expansion is something that higher education needs to be thinking about. And it needs to happen in a structured way.

Bonus data

If you recruit locally, and want to brace yourself for peak years, this is the data set that comes with the DfE call. Click on an area of interest to trigger the graph below to show year on year changes for each year.

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