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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 The information on this website is historical and is no longer maintained.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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When can a quality or standards issue be raised with HEFCE?

To see if we can help, work through our online tool, or read the scheme overview below.

HEFCE has established a scheme to allow issues about academic standards or the student academic experience to be raised with us. This is known as the Unsatisfactory Quality Scheme (UQS).

The Quality Code describes the standards that a university, college or other higher education provider should meet.

Scheme overview

In order for HEFCE to investigate an issue under the Unsatisfactory Quality Scheme, the following should apply:

1. The issue relates to academic 'standards' or the 'student academic experience'

'Standards' means the level of learning a provider requires and how that compares with other providers.

'Student academic experience' means the learning experience that students receive and how they are supported to progress and succeed.

2. It is a serious 'systemic' issue which affects, or has the potential to affect, a group of students rather than just an individual

The role of the UQS is to enhance quality and standards at a sector level. HEFCE can only investigate systemic issues which affect - or have the potential to affect - a group or groups of students.

For an issue to be considered 'systemic' it must be inherent in the management of quality systems or the governance of the provider, rather than one caused by or attributed to a specific, individual or isolated factor.  

3. It concerns a provider of higher education that is funded by HEFCE or the Department for the Economy in Northern Ireland 

HEFCE can only investigate providers that receive funding either directly or indirectly, from HEFCE or from the Department for the Economy in Northern Ireland. Visit the HEFCE Register of HE providers to see which providers receive HEFCE funding. 

4. The person making the submission has direct knowledge of the issue

Only students, members of staff, or those with direct knowledge or experience of the issue can make a submission to the UQS.

5. The issue has been formally raised with the provider 

It is important that the provider has had the chance to address any issues at a local level before HEFCE is contacted. Correspondence with the provider that relates to raising the issue internally should be submitted as part of the supporting evidence.

6. It is less than two years since the providers internal complaints process was completed

Providers of higher education are constantly evolving organisations and over time the policies, practice and personnel may change significantly. An issue from more than two years ago is unlikely to be current practice at the provider.

7. Supporting evidence is provided

HEFCE operates an evidence based approach to the UQS and supporting evidence that substantiates the issues being raised must be submitted. 

Need more information?

Contact us

For queries about the UQS process or to make an informal enquiry please contact the UQS team at or 0117 931 7381.


Page last updated 8 September 2017