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English publicly funded colleges wishing to enter a direct funding relationship with HEFCE for the 2017-18 academic year must apply via the HEFCE extranet by noon on Friday 28 October 2016.

Executive summary


1. This document provides information on the application process for publicly funded colleges in England seeking to become directly funded by HEFCE from the academic year 2017-18.

Key points

2. This is an application process for English publicly funded colleges that wish to receive funding directly from HEFCE to support their higher education courses. When a college becomes directly funded by HEFCE its eligible students are able to access tuition fee loans and support from the Student Loans Company.

3. This process is open only to English institutions in the further education sector and to schools and colleges maintained or assisted by a local education authority. It is not open to any other provider of higher education.

4. The process is a gateway into the higher education system as set out in paragraphs 61 to 69 of HEFCE’s ‘Revised operating model for quality assessment’ (HEFCE 2016/03). Providers will be tested against the following components of the baseline regulatory requirements.

Element of baseline regulatory requirements


a. The framework for higher education qualifications

The academic standard set for, and achieved by, the provider’s students. (Those providers with degree awarding powers will be expected to set and maintain standards effectively. Those without degree awarding powers will be expected to maintain the standards set by a validating partner.)

b. The Expectations of the UK Quality Code for Higher Education


The reference points that address quality management; provider’s approach to learning, teaching and assessment; programme approval and review, and so on.

The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) is interested in how it has been adopted within the specific context and mission of the provider’s higher education provision.

c. The relevant code of governance (such as the Higher Education Code of Governance published by the Committee of University Chairs or the Association of Colleges’ Code of Good Governance)


Those elements of the Code that ensure that the governing body has effective oversight of academic governance for its higher education provision.

As with the Quality Code, QAA is interested in how it has been adopted within the specific context and mission of the provider’s higher education provision.

d. Expectations of consumer law as expressed through the Competition and Markets Authority guidance


Provider’s arrangements to ensure that students receive clear, accurate and timely information, that terms and conditions are fair, and that complaint handling processes are accessible, clear and fair.

e. Student protection measures as expressed through the Office of the Independent Adjudicator’s good practice framework and HEFCE’s Statement of Good Practice on higher education course changes and closures

In particular, how the provider has applied the guidance within the context of its higher education provision.

f. Financial sustainability, management and governance

The provider will need to be financially sustainable and have appropriate management and governance arrangements.

g. Mission and strategy for higher education provision

The provider will need to demonstrate a long term strategic commitment to higher education and demonstrate how its higher education provision will be distinctive, enhance the sector, or be a positive benefit to the local economy.

5. Elements a to e will be tested during a quality review visit carried out on HEFCE’s behalf by the QAA. HEFCE will test elements f and g.

6. In addition we will need to confirm that the provider will be able to maintain a funding relationship with HEFCE. We will do this by assessing the following information:

  • the eligibility of its courses
  • the expected demand from students for its courses.

7. Becoming directly funded by HEFCE places a number of regulatory requirements on providers. They will need to consider carefully their ability to meet these before deciding whether to submit an application.

8. The application process is rigorous and thorough, and formal notification of outcomes can be expected from April 2017. Colleges whose applications are unsuccessful will have the opportunity to appeal; full guidance on appeals will be provided in our outcome letters.

Action required

9. This process only affects colleges not currently in a direct funding relationship with HEFCE.

10. If your provider wishes to become directly funded by HEFCE from the 2017-18 academic year you should read this document, including annexes, then complete the application form and summary of demand table provided when registering for the group key to the HEFCE extranet.

11. To ensure that your application is guaranteed consideration for funding in the 2017-18 academic year, please submit by noon on Friday 28 October 2016

Date: 28 September 2016

Ref: HEFCE 2016/25

Of interest to those
responsible for:

Senior management, Student recruitment, Planning, Finance

Enquiries should be directed to:

HEFCE Gateways Team, Greg Salmon, tel 0117 931 7141, email