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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 The information on this website is historical and is no longer maintained.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 - www.hefce.ac.uk - 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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Applications for the degree awarding powers gateway have now closed. If you applied on or before 31 March 2018, the Office for Students will process your application as outlined in either the ‘Taught and research degree awarding powers’ September 2015 guidance, or in the ‘Foundation degree awarding powers’ October 2015 guidance.

See more about how new applicants can apply for degree awarding powers 

Degree awarding powers

Students who successfully complete a course of study usually receive a diploma, certificate or degree.

If they are awarded a degree, it can be a foundation degree, a bachelor's degree with honours, a master's degree or a doctorate.

Study for a foundation or bachelor's degree is known as undergraduate study and other study, at a higher level, as postgraduate study.

Further information is available in the Framework for higher education qualifications in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Historically universities and colleges were usually given their degree awarding powers by one of the following means:

  • Royal Charter - granted in perpetuity
  • Act of Parliament - granted in perpetuity
  • The Privy Council - granted in perpetuity, if the provider has been designated as eligible to receive HEFCE funding when it applies, or, if not, for a fixed term of six years, after which the provider needs to re-apply.

Applying for degree awarding powers

Any HE provider which does not currently hold degree awarding powers can apply to HEFCE.

We administer the process for the Government but the Quality Assurance Agency undertake the detailed assessment and provide advice.

The Government publishes guidance on the application process and decisions about these applications are made by the Privy Council.

Read the government guidance

There are three types of degree awarding power: for foundation degrees, for taught degrees, and for research degrees.

These powers are ‘cumulative’. This means that a provider with teaching degree awarding powers can also award foundation degrees, and a provider with the power to award research degrees can award taught and foundation degrees.

Only further education corporations may be granted foundation degree awarding powers.

The HEFCE register of HE providers records the degree awarding powers held by providers. 

Page last updated 15 September 2015

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