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Overview of the framework

HEFCE_oversight_role updated July 2017

The operating framework

  • describes how regulation of HE in England currently operates
  • provides confidence to students, staff and the public about registered HE providers
  • helps to protect the reputation of HE in England
  • safeguards public investment.

Each higher education provider is an autonomous organisation, which is responsible for the quality of its provision, its financial sustainability and the experience its students receive.  Students' interests are primarily protected through the arrangements of these providers.  Independent assurance of those arrangements, support and some types of information are provided by national bodies.  

The lead government department for higher education is the Department for Education (DfE), which sets the regulatory framework.

The HEFCE Register of HE Providers lists higher education providers that are part of the regulatory framework.

See more about the roles and responsibilities of the national bodies.

Oversight of the framework

HEFCE leads the operating framework for the regulation and funding of higher education in England. This was requested by the Minister of State in July 2013, when the lead government department for HE was the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills. 

HEFCE operates within the scope of its existing powers. It assists and advises the Department for Education, while respecting the authority of partner organisations, such as the Student Loans Company and the Education and Skills Funding Agency.

HEFCE's role

HEFCE’s role is to:

a. Lead the regulatory work carried out by itself and its statutory and non-statutory partners to encourage an efficient and effective system of accountability to students and the public within the current legislative framework.

b. Support and advise the Department for Education as necessary, in particular in:

  • helping to limit any financial risk to the Government's HE budget
  • administering the higher education gateways
  • providing advice to ministers concerning gateway applications, including monitoring information for specific course designation.

c.  Agree conditions of grant funding and monitor compliance with these conditions.

Page last updated 4 October 2017

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