Quango watch: A guide to those unelected quasi-autonomous non-governmental organisations that run our lives

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The Independent Online
No 9: Higher Education Funding Council for England

What does it do? Advises on the distribution of funds: pounds 2.6bn to universities in England, making it one of the most powerful quangos in the country.

How much does it cost? pounds 11m running costs. Chief executive Graeme Davies earns pounds 104,000.

Who is on the board? Michael Fallon, former Conservative education minister, three businessmen, five academics and five higher education bureaucrats most of whom sit on other education funding councils. Appointed by Education Secretary. None elected.

Central criticism: The board represents a threat to academic freedom. A new pressure group, the Council for Academic Autonomy, claims that the traditional 'arm's length' relationship between the Government and the universities has been destroyed by the quango. The Government has given the council the power to link funds to its assessment of the quality of teaching in different university departments, and to determine how money for research and teaching should be split.

Accountability: Only to Education Secretary. Closed meetings.

Send details of any quango you feel may be behaving improperly to Quangowatch, the Independent on Sunday, 40 City Road, London EC1Y 2DB

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