HEFCE’s business plan B11/78
Agenda item 9
13 October 2011
1. HEFCE’s business plan for discussion and approval.
2. The Board is invited to:
a. Approve the draft business plan attached at Annex A.
b. Delegate authority to the Chief Executive to finalise the business plan in
consultation with the Chair. The final version will be shared with Board
Timing for decisions
3. This meeting provides Board members with an opportunity to make any
substantive changes to the business plan attached at Annex A, prior to its publication on
4. From Tom Sastry (0117 931 7397, email@example.com) or Ben Johnson (0117
931 7038, firstname.lastname@example.org).
5. Board members associated with higher education institutions of further education
colleges will have an interest in this paper.
6. HEFCE’s strategic and operating plans expired in March 2011 during a period of
profound uncertainty for higher education. At that point, the Government was developing
its response to Lord Browne’s review of higher education funding and student finance,
and our various policies, roles and functions were subject to many new and developing
7. Throughout 2011, HEFCE has continued its planning of ‘business-as-usual’ against
the old plans, undertaking additional transition planning overseen by a transition group to
address and coordinate the range of issues arising from the changes to the higher
education system. This approach has enabled us to identify and mitigate the key
transition risks, focussing in particular on where there might be any gaps or overlaps in
our own work, and where there might be any issues which span the boundaries between
HEFCE and other organisations. The Board has received regular updates on this work in
addition to reports on ‘business as usual’ work.
8. Since the last Board meeting in July, the Government has published its White
Paper, setting out its plans for reform to the higher education system, and HEFCE
published its strategy statement as a first step towards defining our new role and
priorities in light of this. The strategy statement forms part of a more focused approach to
strategic and business planning which unifies both business-as-usual and transition
9. This approach has involved the development of a detailed business plan,
presented here in draft at Annex A. The business plan will sit below the strategy
statement and encapsulate detailed objectives and risks for the period 2012-2015. The
strategy statement and business plan taken together form our revised approach to
planning in HEFCE.
10. The draft business plan builds on the principles, priorities and practices outlined in
the strategy statement, drawing together our ongoing work, the new work arising from the
White Paper and the various new activities commissioned and overseen by the transition
11. The business plan sets out the main activities for HEFCE from now until
March 2015. In each activity area, we have set out: a description of the policy context and
challenges; our objectives in each area; and the detailed tasks we will be undertaking to
meet our objectives.
12. The approach taken to the development of the plan has been:
a. To develop a plan which makes sense to external audiences and places at
its heart the way HEFCE relates to the major activities of higher education.
b. To reflect current uncertainties – HEFCE’s role remains the subject of a live
Government consultation and the Government will set out its strategy for
science and innovation in the coming months – and to accept in particular
the plan will be a snapshot reflecting current assumptions
it will be possible to offer more detail in some areas than in others
the planning objectives specified in the plan will be subject to regular
c. To base the plan on three things:
our commitments: specific actions mandated by the strategy
statement, White Paper, Secretary of State grant letter, and BIS
our expertise: input from specialist HEFCE staff involved in our major
areas of work
our principles of opportunity, choice and excellence.
13. The draft business plan aims to offer clarity wherever it has been possible and to
set out contingencies where it has not. Alongside the development of the draft business
plan, we have identified the need to re-assess our strategic risks to ensure they are
consonant with our new role and objectives and the changing environment. For further
information, please refer to Board paper B11/79e which explores our approach and
provides a starting point for identifying a new set of strategic risks.
14. We consider that the draft business plan and discursive risk paper are
complementary: the new set of strategic risks will be incorporated as an addendum to the
business plan in December 2011. Subject to the Board’s recommendations, we intend to:
a. Publish the business plan by 31 October.
b. Use the approach agreed by the Board to develop a new risk register with
colleagues across the Council over the autumn.
c. Present a draft risk register, reflecting the views expressed by the Board in
October to the December Board meeting.
d. Publish a risk register approved by the Board, as an addendum to the
business plan in December 2011.
e. Provide an initial progress report to the Board on the new business plan in
For accountability purposes, we will need to report on specific deliverables to BIS. However, the
requirement to produce a Corporate Plan and revised set of Key Performance Targets have been
temporarily suspended until the issue of HEFCE’s grant letter for 2012-13, with the Joint Accountability
Group instead to receive reports on progress against the instructions to HEFCE in the 2011-12 grant
letter and the White Paper. Therefore, there is no formal requirement to include a set of risks and KPTs
Recommendations: The Board is invited to:
a. Note the above approach.
b. Approve the draft business plan attached at Annex A.
c. Delegate authority to the Chief Executive to finalise the business plan in
consultation with the Chair. The final version will be shared with Board
members prior to publication.
Resource implications for HEFCE
15. No new commitments of programme funds are made.
16. The draft business plan emphasises that both the breadth and scale of HEFCE’s
investments depends upon the resources available. Together with the recently published
strategy statement, the draft business plan is based ultimately upon an analysis of
necessary work. It demonstrates the extent to which new high-priority activity is
concentrated in regulatory activity and in activity related to funding (grant and loan) for
teaching. The full implications of this for our ability to deploy internal resource for other
activities will be explored in the coming months.
17. The risk implications of this work are covered in the discursive Board paper
B11/79e. A report on the current set of strategic risks is attached as a ‘starred’ annex to
Communications and engagement
18. Annex A to this paper (HEFCE Business Plan 2011-2015) will be published as a
formal business plan at the end of October. We are planning a low-key launch. We are
not expecting a great deal of press interest. We will prepare a news item for publication
on the HEFCE website, and send embargoed copes to the press prior to publication. The
Chief Executive will write to vice-chancellors and chairs on publication, setting out key
messages and a high-level ‘calendar of events for the next 6-8 months (as previously
done for the strategy statement). We will also notify the BIS press office in advance of the
19. This paper can be published within three weeks as per the normal timetable for
Board papers. Annex A will not be published as per the normal timetable – it will be
published as a separate document in due course (planned publication date: 31 October).
in this version of the business plan. We will develop mechanisms for reporting to BIS over the coming
Regulation and sector impact assessment
20. There are no regulatory impacts arising from the publication of the business plan or
the development of our strategic risks.
21. We have undertaken a sector impact assessment which revealed no substantive
effects on accountability burden or privacy. It highlighted the need to make the published
business plan accessible and available in a range of formats – this is the only relevant
equality and diversity consideration. It also highlighted the positive sustainable
development impact of a web-only publication strategy for the business plan.