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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 The information on this website is historical and is no longer maintained.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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Dear Vice-Chancellor or Principal

Agreement on institutional designation

1. This letter provides the final version of the agreement on institutional designation. This agreement applies to those higher education institutions (HEIs) and further education colleges (FECs) that receive HEFCE funding. It is effective from 1 August 2014 and runs to 31 July 2017.

2. In February, Universities UK, GuildHE and the Association of Colleges consulted their members on a proposed agreement on institutional designation. The purpose of this proposed agreement was to:

  • make a more explicit link between current institutional accountability requirements and automatic designation for student support for institutions receiving HEFCE funding
  • set out a process for addressing non-compliance with accountability measures, drawing on HEFCE’s current process for institutional support.

3. The terms of the agreement were drawn from those in HEFCE’s financial memorandum (to be renamed the memorandum of assurance and accountability from August 2014), and thus do not represent an increase in accountability.

4. The outcome of the consultation by Universities UK, GuildHE and the Association of Colleges was a high level of support from their members for the proposed agreement. This was endorsed by the boards of these three sector bodies, who wrote to the Minister for Universities and Science on 30 April to confirm that they would sign the agreement on behalf of their members.

5. The Minister wrote back to the three sector bodies on 16 May confirming his acceptance of the agreement. He also wrote to HEFCE, asking HEFCE to sign the agreement and to monitor its compliance. HEFCE’s role under the agreement is as follows.

  1. To monitor HEIs’ and FECs’ compliance with the terms of the agreement.
  2. To engage with HEIs and FECs where there are indications of possible non-compliance, and to reach a resolution so that the terms of this agreement continue to be met. This will include working with the Skills Funding Agency where relevant.

6. Where HEFCE considers there to be serious or persistent non-compliance with the terms of this agreement and no resolution can be reached under the institutional support strategy, the actions that HEFCE will take in consequence are set out in the agreement.

7.The final signed version of the agreement on institutional designation is attached. It comes into force on 1 August 2014 and runs for three years to 31 July 2017.

Yours sincerely

Professor Madeleine Atkins

Chief Executive

Date: 3 June 2014

Ref: Circular letter 15/2014

To: Heads of HEFCE-funded further education colleges, Heads of HEFCE-funded higher education institutions

Of interest to those
responsible for:

Senior management, Finance, Audit, Assurance

Enquiries should be directed to:

Ian Lewis, tel 0117 931 7336, e-mail