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HEFCE closed at the end of March 2018. The information on this website is historical and is no longer maintained.

Many of HEFCE's functions will be continued by the Office for Students, the new regulator of higher education in England, and Research England, the new council within UK Research and Innovation.

The HEFCE domain - - will continue to function until September 2018. At this point we will close the site entirely and all its information will only be available from the National Web Archive.


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Applications for the direct funding gateway have now closed. Further education colleges that wish to become directly funded from 2019-20 need to register with the Office for Students (OfS).

See more about how new applicants can register with the OfS

Applying to become directly funded 

When we fund colleges directly we allocate funding to them following our formula for allocating funds that support teaching. Students at the college will then be able to access government loans and grants. In other words, the college will be ‘designated for student support purposes via the Student Loans Company’.

Please note this process is not open to alternative providers, academies or free schools, who should apply for specific-course designation.

When is a college ready to apply?

Applying to become HEFCE-funded should not be seen as the first step in a college’s path to delivering HE courses. Colleges should not apply to HEFCE speculatively. 

A college should plan months ahead before it submits an application. This planning should ensure that the teaching programmes are viable and meet the college’s wider strategic objectives. 

Colleges also need to secure approval to run HE programmes from the awarding bodies which will award their qualifications. Before they apply to us, we expect them to have reached an advanced stage of approval with these bodies.  

Colleges may want to consider the following questions to find out whether becoming HEFCE-funded is right for them:

1. Do you have suitable validation arrangements in place?

2. Do you have staff able to deliver the provision at HE level (or can you recruit or train them in time for the academic year in which you wish provision to begin)?

3. Do you have the capacity and can you demonstrate that you will be able to provide students with a positive experience of HE?

4. Will you have the capacity and infrastructure in place to ensure that HE at your college is sustainable?

5. If you provide courses through a franchise agreement with a higher education institution, becoming directly funded may change the relationship you have with them. Have you had conversations with your partner institution about becoming directly funded?

6. Do you have the resources (in both financial and human resource terms) in place to meet HEFCE’s regulatory regime, in particular our data requirements?

How to apply

Our application window for colleges to apply for direct funding closes on 30 June 2017.

Applications from colleges applying for direct funding in 2017-18 will be assessed using the following criteria:

  • the Baseline Regulatory Requirements tested during the quality review visit
  • financial sustainability, management and governance
  • the provider’s mission and strategy for its higher education provision
  • course eligibility
  • demand.

Further information can be found in our 2018-19 process guidance publication.

For queries related to HE in FE policy, please contact our HE in FE team led by Adam Lambert, tel 0117 931 7315, email

For queries related to the direct funding process and other technical queries, please contact Greg Salmon, tel 0117 931 7141, email

Page last updated 13 August 2015