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  • What's in the guide and is it for me?
  • The nature of higher education in the UK
  • Higher education institutions and their staff
  • Funding and resources
  • Tuition fees and student support
  • Who participates and how?
  • Courses and qualifications
  • Providing support to the sector
  • Research
  • Quality and standards
  • Economic impact and internationalisation
  • A chronology of change in UK higher education
  • List of UK higher education institutions
  • Useful addresses
  • List of abbreviations
  • Sources of information

What's in the guide and is it for me?

This guide provides an overview of the higher education sector in the United Kingdom. It is designed to introduce the reader to the sector, provide basic factual information and signpost the way for further investigation.

It would be useful if you are new to higher education, or if you are a specialist already working in the sector but seeking to widen your understanding. International readers may find it useful as an introduction to the UK higher education sector.

It covers a broad sweep of information, from the types of institutions that can provide higher education courses and how they are governed, through current tuition fee arrangements, to major policy areas such as widening participation.

It indicates current trends, such as the move towards modularised degrees and the changing nature of the student population. It also includes contact details for useful organisations, and a chronology of landmark events in the recent history of UK higher education.

Date: 1 September 2009

Ref: 2009/32

To: Heads of HEFCE-funded higher education institutions, Heads of HEFCE-funded further education colleges, Heads of universities in Northern Ireland
Heads of LSC-funded further education colleges

Of interest to those
responsible for:

International visitors, Staff in higher education institutions (particularly those new to the sector), Stakeholders in related sectors, Others with a general interest in the sector.

Enquiries should be directed to:

Cliff Hancock, tel 0117 931 7431, e-mail