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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 The information on this website is historical and is no longer maintained.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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English publicly funded colleges wishing to receive direct funding for the 2018-19 academic year must apply via email by noon on Friday 30 June 2017.

Executive summary

Higher Education and Research Act 2017: implications for applicants

1. A new regulator for higher education, the Office for Students (OfS), will be created on 1 April 2018. The OfS’s regulatory framework is expected to be fully implemented from 1 August 2019, and all providers that wish to access student support and public funding from the beginning of the 2019-20 academic year will need to apply for registration with OfS during 2018-19. The Department for Education is expected to consult on the new OfS regulatory framework in autumn 2017.

2. The 2018-19 academic year will therefore be a transition year during which some of the regulatory functions carried out by OfS are expected to be delivered under the current powers and duties of the 1992 Further and Higher Education Act. This means that colleges that are successful in an application under the current process to become directly funded from 2018-19 will need to register with OfS during 2018-19 if they wish to continue to access student support and public funding from 2019-20, and will need to meet the ongoing conditions of registration set by OfS from 2019-20.


3. This document provides information on the application process for publicly funded colleges in England seeking to receive direct public funding for their higher education provision for the academic year 2018-19. This process only affects colleges not currently in a direct funding relationship with HEFCE.

Key points

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

5. 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. Eligibility is explained in section 1 of this guidance.

6. 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.

7. 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.

8. In addition we will need to confirm that the provider has:

  • courses which are eligible for funding
  • sufficient demand from students for its courses.

9. A full description of the evidence required to demonstrate the criteria can be found at Annex C.

10. Becoming directly funded 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.

11. The application process is rigorous and thorough, and formal notification of outcomes can be expected in December 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

12. If your provider wishes to become directly funded from the 2018-19 academic year you should read this document, including annexes, then complete the application form and summary of demand table provided on request from

13. To ensure that your application is guaranteed consideration for funding in the 2018-19 academic year, submit by noon on Friday 30 June 2017

Date: 11 May 2017

Ref: 2017/06

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