We are accountable for the money we administer on the Government's behalf. Such processes are set within a framework for accountability.
The diagram below demonstrates how all the constituent parts of our accountability framework fit together to provide the overall level of assurance to our Audit Committee and Board. Each section is described further below.
- Further and Higher Education Act 1992 and subsequent legislation
Legislation and the Department for Education (DfE) create the environment under which we operate. Under the Higher Education & Research Act 2017, HEFCE will cease to operate on 31 March 2018. On 1 April 2018, the majority of HEFCE’s functions, combined with the work of the Office of Fair Access, will combine to form the Office for Students.
- Framework Document between DfE and HEFCE
There is a Framework Document between ourselves and our sponsor government department. The DfE has agreed to retain the Framework Document we had with our previous sponsor department (Department of Business Innovation and Skills) until 31 March 2018.
- Annual grant letter
We receive a grant letter every year from the Secretary of State for Education, which confirms the amount of funding we will receive and sets out his policy priorities. Our chief executive is the Accounting Officer, which means they are the HEFCE staff member who ultimately takes responsibility for the proper and regular use of public funds and ensuring value for money.
Corporate governance framework
By corporate governance we mean the standards, structures and processes which ensure that our Board (and its committees) deliver its mission.
- HEFCE Board: Code of Practice
The HEFCE Board follows a Code of Practice.
The membership and conduct of the Board, and a register of each member's interests are listed on our website.
- Audit Committee terms of reference
- Scheme of delegation
The scheme of delegation enables the Board to operate at a strategic level while being kept informed of action taken in its name by HEFCE staff. The Board receives reports at each meeting on decisions taken under delegated authority.
HEFCE's assurance framework
Our annual report and accounts provides a summary of our assurance framework, and updates on how we are operating.
The policy and funding framework set by BIS in the annual grant letter provides the start point for HEFCE's strategic and operational planning.
Accountability framework for HE institutions and related bodies
In parallel with our own operations there is an accountability framework that covers our relationship with the universities, colleges and related bodies that we fund and through which we deliver our objectives. This is detailed in 'Accountability for higher education institutions: New arrangements from 2008' (HEFCE 2007/11).
- Memoranda with HE institutions/agreements with related bodies
- The memorandum of assurance and accountability between HEFCE and HE institutions (formerly the financial memorandum) sets out the terms and conditions for payment of HEFCE grants. Part 1 is common to all and is published as HEFCE 2014/12. Part 2 of the memorandum (not publicly available) gives conditions specific to each institution, the funds available to the institution, and the educational provision the institution has agreed in return for those funds.
- Agreements with HEFCE's related bodies can be viewed online.
- Audit and accountability Code of Practice
Our requirements for accountability and audit arrangements in HE institutions and HEFCE's related bodies are published as HEFCE 2014/12 (Annex A).
- Institutional and related bodies risk system
The way our accountability framework operates to assess risk is set out in HEFCE 2007/11.
- Quality assurance framework
Our Quality Assurance Framework for learning and teaching in higher education includes institutional audits and publication of information about quality standards.