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This section lists the legislation that defines HEFCE’s role and powers. 

Further and Higher Education Act 1992

HEFCE was established by the Further and Higher Education Act 1992 to administer the funds that Government provides for higher education.  

The Act enables HEFCE to:

  • fund the provision of education and the undertaking of research by higher education institutions
  • fund the provision of any facilities, and the carrying on of any other activities by higher education institutions to support education or research
  • fund the provision of prescribed higher education by further education colleges
  • fund the provision of services  for the purpose of, or in connection with, education or research provided in higher education institutions (HEIs)
  • require information for the purpose of exercising its functions from HEIs, any other institution at which prescribed courses of higher education are, or have been, provided, and local education authorities.
  • provide the secretary of state with such information or advice relating to the provision of higher education as they may require or the Council may think fit. 

The Act requires HEFCE to ensure provision is made for assessing the quality of education provided in institutions for whose activities it provides, or is considering providing, financial support. 

The conditions of grant are laid out in the memorandum of assurance and accountability and the legislation requires that there are regular consultations on these conditions.  

The Secretary of State may also give HEFCE directions and instructions. These are usually given in the annual grant letter, but there may also be separate letters on specific topics. 

From 2014 HEFCE has had powers to require information from alternative providers under the Education (Prescribed Courses of Higher Education) (Information Requirements) (England) Regulations 2014, a statutory instrument (S.I. 2014/2179), made under the Further and Higher Education Act 1992; Section 79c.   

Higher Education Act 2004

Under section 23 of this Act HEFCE has a duty to monitor fees in publicly funded HE providers and financial penalties that may be imposed are laid down in regulations and the Secretary of State’s conditions of grant to HEFCE. 

Equality Act 2010

Under the Equality Act 2010, HEFCE must meet the general equality duty to eliminate discrimination, advance equal opportunity, and promote good relations both as an employer and as a provider of public services. It must also show 'due regard' to the duty across all of its functions.

Charities Act 2011

Under the Charities Act 2011, HEFCE has been designated the principal regulator of the funded HEIs (and their connected ‘paragraph 28’ charitable entities) that are exempt charities. We can require information from relevant HEIs related to their charitable status. The Charity Commission must consult HEFCE before using any of its permissive or enforcement powers in respect of a relevant HEI.

Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015

HEFCE has been appointed to monitor the performance by higher education providers of their 'prevent' duty under section 26 of this act. We will be able to require information from providers about how they discharge their duty to have ‘due regard to the need’ to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism.   

Page last updated 11 September 2015