A review group was established by Universities UK in February
2016 to consider the effectiveness and the responsibilities of the current
sector agencies that support higher education institutions.
The group – chaired by Sir David Bell, Vice-Chancellor of the
University of Reading – has published a final report which sets out the
findings of the review and makes a number of recommendations.
The report includes a number of recommendations including seeing
the number of core agencies taking subscriptions from institutions
(particularly in England) reduced from nine to six over the next two years.
Most significantly, a new body is proposed that will bring together the
functions of the Equality Challenge Unit (ECU), the Higher Education Academy
(HEA) and the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education (LFHE).
Commenting on the final report, Sir David Bell, Chair of the
review group and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Reading, said: “Sector
agencies have been integral to the success of UK higher education, helping
institutions deliver world-class teaching, learning and research.
“The sector has, however, undergone significant
policy reforms and funding changes in recent years. Most of the
sector agencies have been in place for many years, so it was important to
ensure that they have all adapted to this new environment and that they are
able to meet the needs of a dynamic and increasingly diverse sector.
“The review identified a clear need for reform. Reducing
duplication and improving value for money and coordination between agencies
were some of the key concerns identified by institutional leaders and other
“These recommendations, including the creation of a new, merged
body, should help ensure that the agencies continue to succeed and support the
sector well into the future. The review group is grateful to all the agencies
for their cooperation and thoughtful engagement throughout the process. We look
forward to working with them to implement these recommendations.”