Higher Education Funding Council England (HEFCE)
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How higher education in England works

A summary guide to the higher education system was published yesterday.

The six-page document explains how universities, colleges and other providers of higher education in England are held to account and regulated. It summarises a detailed account of the operating framework for higher education which was published in July.

At a time when increases in tuition fees are shifting the cost of a university education to students via publicly funded loans, it is important that students, their parents and the taxpayer can be confident that their investment represents value for money. ‘The operating framework for higher education in England: a short guide’ Note 1 gives an overview of the arrangements that help students achieve a positive experience of higher education, including:

  • how academic quality and standards are maintained
  • accurate information about courses and qualifications
  • fair access to higher education
  • good governance and financial sustainability in institutions offering higher education courses
  • how disputes are resolved.  

The document also refers to a register of higher education providers in England. This is due to be published in summer 2014 on the HEFCE web-site.

The operating framework will develop further as the Government’s reforms to the funding and regulation of higher education continue to be implemented, and an updated guide is due to be published next summer.

The summary guide and full version have been published by HEFCE on behalf of the Regulatory Partnership Group Note 2.


1. View the summary guide and the full version

2. The Regulatory Partnership Group was established in September 2011 by HEFCE and the Student Loans Company. Its purpose is to advise Government, HEFCE and other national agencies on policy, strategic and operational issues arising from the development of the new funding and regulatory arrangements for higher education. The Group is made up of the chairs, chief executives and deputy chief executives of HEFCE and the Student Loans Company, and the chief executives of the sector agencies that have a role in the regulatory framework:

  • Higher Education Statistics Agency
  • Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education
  • Office of the Independent Adjudicator
  • Office for Fair Access.

The National Union of Students, Universities UK, GuildHE, UCAS and the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills attend the group’s meetings as observers.

The summary guide has been published during ‘Make Your Future Happen: Discover Higher Education’ week, a campaign by the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills, with support from Universities UK, to promote the benefits of higher education and encourage people of all ages to consider applying to university or college. Get involved in the debate and activities: www.gov.uk/unimoney


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