You need cookies enabled


You need cookies enabled


If you have any questions please contact us on 0117 931 7162/7378 or

How to apply

The Government has published guidance that includes details of the full criteria. Applicants should read this carefully before applying.

We administer the process for Government and advise them about submitted applications.

To apply institutions should submit: 

1. A letter of application from the Chair of your governing body (or equivalent).

2. A case for designation.

3. Financial tables and commentary (if these have not already been provided as part of a specific-course designation application or annual accountability return). Templates are available but please speak to us about whether they are required.

4. Any other supporting evidence. 

The main application document is the case for designation. This should address the criteria set out in the Government’s guidance.

Applications can be made at any time and should be emailed to

Eligibility for designation: Number criterion

To be eligible for designation the full-time equivalent enrolment number for higher education courses at your institution must be more than 55 per cent of the total full-time equivalent enrolment number. This must be calculated in accordance with Schedule 9 of the Education Reform Act 1988.

This will be checked by HEFCE using HESA data wherever possible. For Alternative Providers who do not have sufficient HESA data, HEFCE has provided a calculation tool: 

Alternative providers who have not historically taken part in HESA returns should go through the following steps:

1. Complete the table in HEFCE’s calculation tool to check if you are likely to meet the threshold described above.

2. Send completed tables to HEFCE for verification.

3. HEFCE will discuss with you to decide whether the application can proceed.

If you are unsure if the calculation tool will apply to your institution, please contact for further advice. 

Please note, completion of this table does not in itself constitute eligibility to apply.

Page last updated 2 June 2016