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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 The information on this website is historical and is no longer maintained.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

How to apply

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

We administer the process for Government and advise them about submitted applications. The decision to grant university or university title rests with the Secretary of State.

To apply institutions should submit: 

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

2. An independent report providing assurances on the criteria for good governance and student numbers if the institution is non HEFCE-funded

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 independent report. 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 University Title: Number criterion

To be eligible for University Title organisations must have at least 1000 full-time equivalent higher education students, of whom at least 750 are registered on degree courses (including foundation degree programmes); and 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 paragraphs 1-3, but not 5, of Schedule 9 of the Education Reform Act 1988.

Student numbers will be checked by HEFCE using HESA data wherever possible. For Alternative Providers who do not have sufficient HESA data, or for providers who wish to investigate their initial eligibility, HEFCE has provided a calculation tool:

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

  • Complete the table in HEFCE’s calculation tool to check if you are likely to meet the threshold described above.
  • Send completed tables to HEFCE for verification.
  • 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 November 2017