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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 Working Group

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

Briefing: Revised operating model for quality assessment

Briefing
23 March 2016
Universities UK broadly supports the new risk-based approach to external oversight. It should enable resources in the system to be focused more effectively where they are needed.

Report cover

Briefing: English devolution

Briefing
28 January 2016
English devolution is a complex and evolving policy process, and universities should have a central role to play.

Briefing front cover

Parliamentary briefing: Response to the Higher Education Green Paper

Briefing
19 January 2016
This briefing summarises Universities UK's response to the consultation on the Higher Education Green Paper, 'Fulfilling our potential: teaching excellence, social mobility and student choice'.

Freedom of speech briefing front cover

Parliamentary briefing: Freedom of speech on campus

Briefing
24 November 2015
This briefing covers some of the legal and other considerations for universities on the matter of freedom of speech on university campuses.

Briefing front cover

The Higher Education Green Paper – one-page summaries

Briefing
13 November 2015
A collection of one-page summaries covering the key themes from the Higher Education Green Paper.

Future approaches to quality assessment in England, Wales and Northern Ireland: consultation response

Consultations and responses
18 September 2015
Need to reform the quality assessment system and are broadly supportive of the proposals set out by the funding councils

Report page

Quality, equity, sustainability: the future of higher education regulation

Report
12 February 2015
Quality, equity, sustainability makes recommendations for a new regulatory framework for higher education.

Report page

Cost and benefit analysis project on immigration regulation

Report
11 July 2013
Higher Education Better Regulation Group (HEBRG) published the final report of the cost and benefit analysis project on Tier 4 student immigration regulation on 11 July 2013.

Report front cover

Review of non-HE regulatory landscape and its impact on HEIs

Report
30 November 2011
This report was delivered to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills in November 2011, and is based on research undertaken on behalf of HEBRG by Capita Consulting.

Provision of information on higher education

Provision of information about higher education: outcomes of consultation and next steps

Report
16 June 2011
This joint report by Universities UK, GuildHE and the Higher Education Funding Council for England sets out how to improve the accessibility and usefulness of information about higher education.

Blogs

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.

Changes to higher education mean sector agencies must adapt

31 January 2017
Sir David Bell, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Reading, discusses recommendations from the sector agency review.

News

Chief Executive-designate appointed to lead new HE sector agency

11 September 2017
Alison Johns has been appointed the Chief Executive-designate for a new higher education sector agency. The new agency will be formed in 2018.

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