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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 Negotiating and Advisory Committee

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

Consumer rights and universities: findings of the Universities UK self-assessment exercise

28 November 2016
A summary of the findings of a Universities UK ​self-assessment exercise designed to help universities evaluate their approach towards the requirements of consumer protection law.

Briefing: Revised operating model for quality assessment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.



Subject-level TEF – a done deal or the start of a consultation?

12 March 2018
Today saw a lot of media coverage and fanfare around a new 'degree course ranking' system. In reality, this was simply the launch of a long-awaited consultation on how to implement a subject-level version of the Teaching Excellence Framework.

The Office for Students – finally starting to focus on students?

The Office for Students – finally starting to focus on students?

28 February 2018
UUK Programme Manager, William Hammonds, writes on new the regulatory framework for the Office for Students which comes into effect from April 2018.


Office for Students launches new regulatory framework

28 February 2018
Universities UK has responded to the publication of the Office for Students’ (OfS) new regulatory framework. The document sets out how the OfS – the new regulator for higher education in England – will carry out its work from April 2018 onwards.

Committee of University Chairs consultation on senior staff pay

9 January 2018
Universities UK's response to CUC consultation on senior staff pay.

The team

Emily Darian

Emily Darian

Policy Researcher
Universities UK

William Hammonds

William Hammonds

Programme Manager
Universities UK

Samuel Roseveare

Samuel Roseveare

Policy Manager
Universities UK