Home > Policy and analysis > Regulation of higher education

Regulation of higher education

Effective regulation is essential to provide accountability for public funds, protect the interests of students and safeguard the reputation of UK higher education.

We are working closely with government, the funding bodies and the Quality Assurance Agency to make sure regulation and quality assurance continues to be effective now and into the future. We work with the national funding bodies to ensure there is a consistent approach to quality assessment across the UK.

Our current areas of focus include the government's Higher Education White Paper and the related Higher Education and Research Bill. The bill includes proposals for the establishment of an Office for Students, the Teaching Excellence Framework, and the entry of new providers into the higher education 'market'. ​

As these reforms are developed and introduced, we aim to ensure that:

  • there is consistency and comparability of arrangements across the whole of the UK
  • external quality assessment is proportionate, risk based and founded on effective institutional assurance arrangements
  • the sector maintains a shared and robust baseline of quality
  • regulation protects students against transient, negligent and poor quality providers

UK higher education is a global success story. It generates £27.9 billion in revenue, employs over 262,700 staff and has over two million students. There are nearly 200 universities with degree awarding powers, most of which are members of Universities UK. These universities range from small specialists to large multi-faculty institutions, each with their own distinctive strengths and missions. The success of UK higher education is founded on the diversity and autonomy of its universities. 

Copyright Negotiating and Advisory Committee

We also co-convene, with GuildHE, a group responsible for negotiating copyright licences on behalf of the higher education sector.

Understanding degree algorithms report front cover

Understanding degree algorithms

18 October 2017
The findings of a joint Universities UK-GuildHE project looking at the configuration of degree algorithms – the sets of rules institutions follow to determine a student's final degree classification.

Review of the Teaching Excellence Framework Year 2

Review of the Teaching Excellence Framework Year 2

31 August 2017
A review of the results, impact and cost of making submissions to the Teaching Excellence Framework in its first ‘test’ year.

Education, consumer rights and maintaining trust: what students want from their university

Education, consumer rights and maintaining trust: what students want from their university

Report
21 June 2017
An assessment of how student perspectives of the student–university relationship are evolving in the context of a growing emphasis on market competition and consumer rights in higher education.

Briefing: Implementation of the Higher Education and Research Act 2017

Briefing
9 June 2017
The legislation is primarily concerned with the creation of two new bodies to regulate and fund higher education providers: the Office for Students (OfS) and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).

Progress update on Bell Review recommendation on new higher education sector agency

19 May 2017
Statement from Universities UK, GuildHE, the Equality Challenge Unit (ECU), the Higher Education Academy (HEA), and the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education (LFHE) on the implementation of the recommendations of the Bell Review.

Universities UK response to the Office for Students consultation on registration fees and other fees

14 March 2017
A fee-based approach to OfS funding will be an opportunity to strengthen accountability to the sector. However, as the costs of the OfS will also indirectly fall on students, fees and funding should be value for money, sustainable and proportionate.

UUK-GuildHE letter to peers on Higher Education and Research Bill ahead of Report stage

2 March 2017
The president of UUK and chair of GuildHE have written to members of the House of Lords during Committee stage of the Higher Education and Research Bill.

Report of the review group on UK higher education sector agencies

Report
31 January 2017
The group believes that the framework of recommendations set out in this report will create a more robust and effective sector agency landscape which meets the needs of its users.

UUK-GuildHE letter to peers on Higher Education and Research Bill priorities

19 January 2017
The president of UUK and chair of GuildHE have written to members of the House of Lords during Committee stage of the Higher Education and Research Bill.

Universities UK’s response to the government consultation, 'Schools that work for everyone'

12 December 2016
We support the government’s wish to raise standards and attainment in the school system and in doing so improve social mobility. This can be achieved through a number of partnership and engagement mechanisms with schools.

Events

Blogs

Setting up the Office for Students: what's new?

19 October 2017
UUK's William Hammonds highlights key points for the higher education sector in the consulation for the new regulatory framework for the Office for Students.

Research misconduct: how universities are addressing the issue

30 March 2017
Jamie Arrowsmith, Programme Manager at Universities UK, discusses the progress universities have made in addressing research misconduct.

News

Universities UK President conference speech: having policies and strategies in place to address harassment is not enough

8 November 2017
Professor Janet Beer, President of Universities UK, has said that all strategies designed to address harassment must be accompanied by activities to support cultural change in our universities.

Response to consultation on the Office for Students

19 October 2017
A statement from Janet Beer, President of Universities UK, in response to the consultation on the shape of the new Office for Students.

The team

Emily Darian

Emily Darian

Policy Researcher
Universities UK

William Hammonds

William Hammonds

Programme Manager
Universities UK

Samuel Roseveare

Samuel Roseveare

Policy Researcher
Universities UK