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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 The information on this website is historical and is no longer maintained.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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Who is eligible to apply as a new provider?

Any provider of higher education that does not have current designation for undergraduate student support or postgraduate masters loans for new students. This includes providers that have current designation for disabled students' allowances only, that wish to have their courses designated for postgraduate masters loans, or providers that have previously held designation for student support.

What can a new provider apply for?

New providers can apply for course designation to enable English domiciled students studying on designated courses to be able to access:

  • undergraduate student support (tuition fee and maintenance loans)
  • postgraduate masters loans
  • disabled students’ allowance (DSA) for postgraduate students.

How can you apply?

The course designation system has four key criteria which providers must demonstrate they meet for their courses to be designated. These are:

  • quality assessment
  • academic performance or track record
  • financial sustainability, management and governance
  • course eligibility.

Before making an application providers should ensure they have everything needed to submit a complete application. This information is contained within the Government guidance: Specific course designation: guidance for alternative higher education providers.

To request an application pack, email the following information to

  • the UKPRN of the organisation applying
  • the legal name of the organisation applying
  • the name and correspondence address of the accountable officer for the organisation (see page 58 of the Government guidance for a definition of accountable officer)
  • the contact details for the main contact during the application
  • the expected date of submission for the application
  • confirmation that you have obtained a Higher Education Review for Alternative Providers (HER AP) or applied to the QAA for one.

Read technical information on how to complete the application pack

To discuss your application call HEFCE on 0117 931 7317 (select option 2). 

New provider application process


We have provided below a sample of the new provider application form (for guidance only). Applications may only be made via the application pack provided through the HEFCE secure extranet system.


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

If you have a general query, please email

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

Page last updated 26 July 2017

Course designation queries