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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 The information on this website is historical and is no longer maintained.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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Executive summary


1. The purpose of this technical information is to support alternative providers of higher education in completing the processes related to specific course designation that the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) manages on behalf of the Department for Education (DfE).

Key points

2. This technical information covers the following HEFCE managed processes:

  • New providers – Application process for alternative providers requesting designation to enable their students to access undergraduate (UG) student support, postgraduate (PG) masters loans or for their PG students to access the disabled students’ allowances (DSA).
  • Annual returns – Annual returns process for alternative providers with existing specific course designation.
  • New locations and courses – Application process for alternative providers to apply for additional locations or register additional courses.
  • Notification of changes – Change of circumstance and change of control notification procedure for alternative providers, who have existing designation.

Action required

3. Providers with course designation are required to complete an annual return between 1 August 2016 and noon on 15 September 2016.

4. Providers who wish to apply for any other form of course designation for the first time, or apply for new locations or courses may do so at any time after 16 September 2016.

5. Before submitting an annual return or application to HEFCE, providers must read the relevant sections of this document along with the guidance provided by the former Department for Business, Innovation and Skills at

Contact information

6. If you have any queries or would like to discuss a process or any the responses you are providing, please contact the Gateways team at HEFCE, tel 0117 931 7317 (select option 2) or email:

Date: 1 August 2016

Ref: HEFCE 2016/13

Of interest to those
responsible for:

Specific course designation

Enquiries should be directed to:

Gateways team, tel 0117 931 7317 (select option 2), email, and see paragraph 6.