Dear Head of Provider
Register of higher education providers
1. This summer, the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) will publish an online Register of higher education providers and we plan to include your organisation on it. This letter explains why the Register is being created, what it will include, and the actions you may wish to take.
Purpose of the Register
2. Last year, the Minister for Universities and Science asked HEFCE to create a register of providers (Letter to HEFCE from the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, available online as Annex A to ‘Higher education regulatory reforms’, HEFCE Circular letter 20/2013).
3. The first version of the Register will include all providers which are regulated in England because they fulfil one or more of these criteria:
- they directly receive public grants for higher education
- they have eligible courses for the purposes of English student support funding
- they are higher education institutions
- they have the right to award one or more type of UK degrees.
4. This information is currently held on a variety of sites and in a variety of formats because higher education in England is regulated by a range of bodies. The Register will help to clarify which of these criteria each provider meets, and what is required from each provider as a result. Our aim is to ensure that it is as up to date and accurate as possible. Providers which have only met these criteria under Welsh, Scottish, or Northern Irish regulations will not be included
5. The Register will be an authoritative reference point which will act as a hub for the collation of information for a wide range of users – from overseas governments to students. However, unlike Unistats (unistats.direct.gov.uk), its principal aim is not to inform student choice between courses.
The content and timing of the first Register
6.We anticipate that around 600 providers will be listed on the Register when it is published in late summer, and each one will have its own page. Each provider’s page will show whether it:
- Is registered in England and either
- has UK degree-awarding powers (and specifically, whether this is at foundation, teaching, or research level), or
- is a higher education institution (and specifically whether it has university title, higher education corporation status or designated institution status).
- Directly receives recurrent grant funding for teaching or research from HEFCE.
- Has courses which have been directly designated as eligible for the purposes of English student support funding.
Higher education corporations are providers which were further education colleges or local authority organisations and have moved into the higher education sector. Designated institutions are providers which have been designated as eligible to receive public higher education grant funding. Both types of provider must be given their status via Parliamentary Order. The last criterion includes providers with institutional designation, specific course designation, or designation as an initial teacher training provider. Providers delivering only employment-based initial teacher training will not be shown on the register as they are not designated for higher education student support purposes.
7. Each provider’s page will show its legal name, legal address, any operating names and a website URL. The page will also show a unique identifier for each provider – a UK Provider Reference Number, which helps to distinguish between providers with very similar names. It will also briefly summarise the requirements a provider has to meet as a condition of meeting any of the above criteria. For example, if a Further Education College is in receipt of HEFCE funding its entry will reflect that, and also that as a result the quality of its higher education provision is reviewed by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education under HEFCE’s statutory duty. Some of these regulated statuses or powers have conditions which are particular to individual providers, and the Register will include enough information to be clear about these conditions.
8. For providers with specific courses designated for the purpose of student support funding, the Register will list each designated course, its location, mode of study, duration, level and course name, and the name of the relevant validating or awarding body. In time, this will replace the information currently held on the HEFCE specific course list (see www.hefce.ac.uk/whatwedo/reg/desig/search/Provider/10037544/ for an example). No other course-level information will be listed on the Register.
9. Providers which only deliver courses of higher education as part of a franchise arrangement will not be shown on this version of the Register, as they are not directly regulated, but are funded and assured via the lead provider in the franchise. This will include further education colleges which do not receive HEFCE grant directly, as well as a number of privately-funded providers. We will consider reflecting such provision better in future iterations of the Register.
10. The data on the Register will be taken from a number of sources, including HEFCE itself, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, the Privy Council, Parliament, the UK Register of Learning Providers (UKRLP) and the National College of Teaching and Leadership. There will be a page explaining the source of each item of data, and including a downloadable file of the majority of the information on the Register. We will be updating the register frequently; for much information this will happen automatically as soon as the source changes.
Actions you may wish to take
11. To ensure that your organisation’s name, address and web-site are correct when the Register is published, you may wish to check our source for this information, the UK Register of Learning Providers. This can be updated online at www.ukrlp.co.uk. We would recommend making any amendments before the end of July 2014.
12. Before the Register is officially published, we will share a link with you, so that you can familiarise yourself with its content and give us any comments. If you notice any factual inaccuracies, please inform us immediately so that we can investigate before the Register is made public. Much of the information in the Register is the responsibility of organisations other than HEFCE, so once the Register is live, we would ask you to raise any issues with the organisation which is the original source of the information. The Register to be published this summer is a first version which we plan to enhance, so we will also welcome your feedback to help inform future versions. Please send any thoughts you may have about the site to email@example.com.
13. If your organisation has degree-awarding powers and validates courses at other providers, we would recommend that you review the entries for those providers. One of the conditions applied by BIS when courses are specifically designated for student support funding is that the providers delivering those courses should inform HEFCE if their validation agreements are changed. A change in the validation arrangements for a particular course could mean that the course is no longer eligible for the purposes of student support funding. If you wish to inform us of any relevant changes to validation arrangements, either before or after the Register launches, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
14. You may also find it useful to link from your own web-site to the Register, as it will be an authoritative source of information about each provider.
Professor Madeleine Atkins