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University title

Some organisations have the right to use the title ‘University’ or ‘University College’ in their name, although they may not always do so.

These terms are protected terms in law, and the Privy Council is responsible for granting university and university college title.

Providers can acquire these titles, if they meet specific conditions, via one of two routes:

  • a Royal Charter or Act of Parliament, in accordance with the provisions of the Further and Higher Education Act 1992
  • by obtaining approval for the use of the word ‘University’ or `University College’ in the name under the provisions of the Companies Act 2006.

A university or university college must already have taught UK degree awarding powers before they can apply for these titles.

Applying for university title

The Government publishes details of how to apply for university title, including guidance material.

HEFCE administer the process for Government and advise them about submitted applications. The decision to grant university or university college title rests with the Privy Council.

The Department for Education (DfE) monitors whether these protected terms are used legally within the UK.

See the process, criteria and guidance for achieving university title or university college title. 

All providers with the right to call themselves a university are ‘higher education institutions’ (HEI). All HEIs, including those with university title, based in England are listed on the HEFCE register of HE providers

Page last updated 15 September 2015

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