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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 The information on this website is historical and is no longer maintained.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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If you apply for university or university college title on or before 31 March 2019, the Office for Students (OfS) will process your application as outlined in the ‘University title and university college title’ September 2015 guidance and as set out on these pages. OfS will take on HEFCE’s role.

See more about how new applicants can apply for university or university college title beyond 1 April 2019

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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