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To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what recent estimate he has made of the number of higher education institutions that will be required to repay funds to the Higher Education and Funding Council for England resulting from overpayments based on the mis-reporting of student completion rates.
Almost all of HEFCE's recurrent funding for institutions are allocated by formula and informed by data that higher and further education institutions provide on their student numbers and measures of research activity. HEFCE's rules about only counting the activity that students complete in its funding allocations are clear. Where it is found, either through reconciliations with other data or any data audit, that erroneous data has resulted in institutions receiving incorrect funding allocations, then HEFCE adjust their funding accordingly (subject, where appropriate, to an appeals process).
As with any other public sector body, HEFCE's audits are a routine way of ensuring accountability for, and the proper use of, public funds. HEFCE carries out student data audits of the universities and colleges it funds over a five-year cycle. In 2008 it audited 26 HEIs relating to their 2007-08 HESES data. Where it finds that institutions have over-claimed funding, HEFCE has a duty to recover it. So far, these data audits have resulted in confirmed funding adjustments to funding for four institutions, as a result of incorrect reporting of non-completions.