External regulation

The Office for Students (OfS) is the main regulator for higher education.

It acts in the interests of students and taxpayers, positioning universities and colleges as ‘providers’ with a focus on service delivery. 

The OfS has four primary objectives. 

  1. Students are supported to access, succeed in, and progress from higher education.
  2. Students receive a high quality academic experience, and their interests are protected while they study, or in the event of closure.
  3. Students are able to progress into employment or further study, and their qualifications hold value over time.
  4. Students and taxpayers receive value for money.

The 2017 Higher Education and Research Bill (2017) brought into law a risk-based regulatory framework for higher education and created the OfS as the main regulator. 

From 1 August 2019, the OfS Regulatory Framework came fully into force for registered providers. Key ongoing registration conditions include: a student access and participation plan, student outcomes, student protection plans, financial sustainability, and effective leadership and governance.

The OfS is also the principal regulator of universities as exempt charities, and the monitoring authority for compliance with the Prevent Duty.

It is responsible for assurance of academic quality and standards but delegates the collection and dissemination of statistics and data to the Higher Education Statistics Authority (HESA).