The institutional framework for the funding of higher education in the UK is discussed. In England, much of the financial support for teaching and learning, especially of ‘home and EU’ undergraduates, is channelled through the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE). HEFCE operates a formula funding mechanism, though in the wake of recent policy reforms - which include the introduction of differential tuition fees - this is likely to change. Some simple economic models of funding mechanisms which may be suitable for application in this context are constructed and evaluated. Implications for the design of future policies are discussed.