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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 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.

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.

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

Report
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

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.

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