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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 The information on this website is historical and is no longer maintained.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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Annual returns will be accepted by HEFCE between 24 July and noon on 5 September 2017

Who is required to submit an annual return?

Any provider that has designation for student support will be required to submit an annual return (see below for more details).

Full information is contained within the Government guidance: Specific course designation: guidance for alternative higher education providers.

What is required in an annual return?

It is a condition of designation that you submit an annual return to HEFCE. The evidence required is different depending on which category of provider you fall into:

  • providers with designation for undergraduate student support or postgraduate masters loans must submit a full return
  • providers with UK degree awarding powers who hold course designation must submit a full return
  • providers with course designation for disabled students’ allowance (DSA) only must submit a reduced return
  • providers with courses only designated for teach out must submit a teach out return.

Detailed information about what is required in the three types of annual return is provided on page 29 of the Government guidance.

Find out how to avoid common errors in annual returns

Download the 2017_annual_return_List_of_common_errors as MS Word (17 KB)

What can you tell your students about your course designation status for 2018-19?

The Gateways team at HEFCE have prepared the following statement that has been approved by the Department for Education to use when referring to access to student support for 2018-19:

For students to be eligible for SLC funding, they must be studying a designated course. Courses at alternative providers [or, if preferred, 'this institution'] are designated each year by the Department for Education. We have made an application for this course [or, if preferred, name the course] to also be designated for the 2018-19 academic year. We expect this process to be completed in early 2018. Visit for more information.

Annual returns process



If you have any queries about your application, contact a member of the Gateways team on 0117 931 7317 (select option 2).

If you have a general query, email

If you have a query about the financial sustainability, management and governance aspect, email

Page last updated 27 July 2017

Course designation queries