The success of higher education in England is underpinned by the principles of institutional autonomy and academic freedom, and the new arrangements build on these strong foundations. The Government has asked HEFCE and the Regulatory Partnership Group (RPG) [Note 3] to implement them within existing legislation, while recognising that a new legislative framework will be required in the longer term.
Working in partnership with the RPG, HEFCE is asked to take on a regulatory oversight and coordination role [Note 4]. HEFCE is leading work on a number of strands of the new arrangements:
The Government has announced that it intends to delegate to HEFCE responsibility for the process of approving designation of HEFCE-funded universities and colleges, and for providing assurance that the agreed terms and conditions are met. Eligible courses at these institutions are and will continue to be designated automatically, allowing students to access student support. Institutions will not be required to undergo a separate designation process. This means that in practice there will be little change for existing institutions, and no additional administrative burden.
The RPG, which is chaired by HEFCE and the Student Loans Company (SLC), is publishing a summary of the current and proposed regulatory and funding arrangements, ‘Operating framework for higher education in England’ [Note 8].
Tim Melville-Ross (Chair of HEFCE), who co-chairs the RPG with Ed Smith (Chair of SLC), said:
‘The new arrangements are designed to safeguard the interests of students, ensure proper accountability for the use of public funds, and protect and enhance the reputation of higher education in England. HEFCE, SLC and the RPG will work with Government, universities, colleges and other higher education providers to implement them in an even-handed and proportionate way, keeping the administrative burden on institutions to a minimum and respecting institutional autonomy.’