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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 The information on this website is historical and is no longer maintained.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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Lessons learned: knowledge

  • The application form or process required to set up a free school requires people with the appropriate knowledge, experience and expertise in order to be successful. 
  • It is important for sponsors to have a base level of knowledge about the different regulations, cultures and funding mechanisms in the school sector. Depending on their prior experience, it can take some time for some sponsors to develop this knowledge.
  • Consider bringing in a co-sponsor or trustees with specific knowledge where you feel you have a gap. For example, partnering with an existing high performing school or business may bring you the expertise you need on school improvement, finance or governance.

Top tips: support and advice

  • Ensure that you have full support for the sponsorship from senior stakeholders in your HE organisation.
  • Don’t be afraid to seek advice from other people that have embarked on a similar project.
  • Recognise that you are likely to need specialist support, for example, financial and legal. Identify the most appropriate channels through which to source that support as an early priority.

Case studies

Staffordshire University and University for the Creative Arts are useful case study examples in illustrating the knowledge and support and advice required in their sponsorship arrangements.

To find out more see the full case studies below.

Page last updated 7 October 2016

Explore supporting case studies: