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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 The information on this website is historical and is no longer maintained.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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What do universities and colleges need to do?

The new approach to quality assessment is published for information.

We encourage institutions to read all the details we have provided and discuss them with HEFCE.

1. Annual Provider Review

The new Annual Provider Review (APR) replaces the four or six-yearly Higher Education Review. 

The APR is desk-based and a low-burden process. It uses existing HEFCE data analysis and assurance processes. 

Institutions will not need to submit any additional returns. Instead, the new review brings together these processes in a more structured way.

We have now published detailed guidance on the APR process for 2016-17.


The appeals process for a provider’s Annual Provider Review outcome is explained in the APR guidance on pages 14-15.

Providers have 14 working days to submit an appeal on the grounds of procedural irregularity, that is, that the published process has not been followed.

The appeals form and more information about submitting an appeal are available on the HEFCE extranet.

Please contact for more information.

2. Assurances from governing bodies

We are using existing processes for collecting assurances from governing bodies to support the Annual Provider Review. 

These processes will also cover the student academic experiences, student outcomes, and the standard of awards. 

Universities will need to include these assurances as part of their Annual Accountability Return. Colleges will be asked to submit the new assurances through a tailored template.

We have published detailed information about the assurance statements governing bodies will need to provide from December 2016. 

3. Peer review and outcomes

Our Quality Committee will make the final judgements. This means that a diverse group of qualified and trained peer and student members will carry out the review. 

Judgements will fall into one of three outcomes: 

  • Meets requirements 
    The provider will continue to undergo Annual Provider Review in subsequent years.
  • Meets requirements with conditions 
    The provider will continue to undergo Annual Provider Review in subsequent years, but with an action plan to address areas of immediate concern.
  • Pending 
    The provider will be referred for further investigation and intervention.

Transition in 2016-17

Quality review visits

Under the new approach to quality assessment the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) will carry out ‘quality review’ visits.

These visits will include detailed scrutiny of a provider’s ability to meet those elements of the baseline regulatory requirements that relate directly to the quality of the student academic experience, and to the safeguarding of degree standards.

QAA has published a Quality Review Handbook describing how it will carry out quality review visits.

We are putting in place transition arrangements for those providers who had been scheduled for QAA Higher Education Review (HER) during 2016-17.

We have written to all universities and colleges with details of these arrangements and will support all providers through the process.

Guides outlining these transition arrangements for providers are now available below.

Revised operating model for quality assessment transition arrangements in 2016-17: List of providers

Download the Revised_operating_model_for_quality_assessment_transition_arrangements_in_2016-17_list_of_providers as PDF (104 KB)

Guide for higher education providers that had been scheduled for QAA Higher Education Review in 2016-17 and have had two or more successful reviews

Download the QAR guide those with as PDF (88 KB)

Guide for higher education providers that had been scheduled for QAA Higher Education Review in 2016-17 and have not yet had two successful reviews

Download the QAR guide less than as PDF (92 KB)

Page last updated 3 August 2017