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 national regulators and funding bodies and the Quality Assurance Agency to make sure regulation and quality assurance continues to be effective now and into the future and that there is a consistent approach across the UK.

Our current areas of focus include the implementation​ of the Higher Education and Research Act in England that sets up for the Office for Students, the new regulator for universities in England. We are also working on the development of the Teaching Excellence Framework, the management of academic standards and grade inflation and the entry of new providers into the higher education market.

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.

Degree classification: transparent, consistent and fair academic standards

Report
28 November 2018
A wide range of factors behind the increase in the number of graduates receiving first and upper-second class degrees.

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.

Events

Blogs

Addressing grade inflation: a statement of intent

28 November 2018
UUK's Charlotte Snelling on a new statement of intent for the sector to address the various factors behind grade inflation.

Managing grade inflation and demonstrating student improvement

1 June 2018
UUK's William Hammonds provides an update on UUK's work with QAA, GuildHE and the UKSCQA to explore how to address concerns around grade inflation.

News

Universities taking steps to tackle grade inflation

28 November 2018
UK universities and other higher education providers are planning a range of changes to the degree classification system to tackle perceptions of grade inflation and ensure public confidence in the results students receive and the value of a degree.

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.

The team

William Hammonds

William Hammonds

Policy Manager
Universities UK

Samuel Roseveare

Samuel Roseveare

Policy Manager
Universities UK