Office for Students publishes New Regulatory Framework Guidance

The Office for Students (OfS) has today (28 February) published its new regulatory framework for English higher education and associated guidance in a series of documents available on the Office for Students Website.

Securing student success: Regulatory framework for higher education in England was released to coincide with the OfS Launch Conference in central London today, alongside guidance, templates and advice for registration. The framework document includes the essential information for providers intending to register with the Office for Students in April 2018, setting out how the OfS intends to perform its various functions and providing guidance to higher education providers on how to register with the OfS, as well as on the ongoing conditions of registration. Further guidance is expected in the next few weeks.

The document is composed of five parts: Part I: the OfS’s risk-based approach; Part II: sector level regulation; Part III: regulation of individual providers; Part IV: validation, degree awarding powers and university title; and Part V: guidance on the general ongoing conditions of registration.

Key points from the framework document and guidance include:

  • The annual OfS registration fees for smaller providers are less than those proposed in the October consultation.
  • There will also be a ‘micro provider’ subsidy for providers with less than 300 students and a subsidy for ‘new providers’.
  • Providers can register on two categories, Approved and Approved (fee cap). There is no longer a Basic registration category.
  • Providers who are currently designated by DfE will need to submit four additional pieces of evidence when registering, while most data will be drawn directly from what HEFCE and DfE already hold.
  • Providers without designation but with a Tier 4 sponsor licence will be treated as ‘new providers’ for the purposes of the OfS register and should follow the new provider guidance for applying to the OfS.
  • The OfS has published new templates for student protection policies, self-assessment documents for consumer protection law, self-assessment on management and governance, and access and participation plans.
  • Providers with experience of offering degrees can choose to apply for DAPs through the experienced route or the New DAPs route.

All of the additional documents released alongside the regulatory framework can be found on the Office for Students website. Future guidance will also be published in full on the OfS website.

IHE are holding a number of ‘OfS Ready’ events to support independent providers with OfS registration, including one on Governance for Independent Providers on 7 March and another on Access & Participation in April. We are also holding a free webinar on OfS Registration and the Framework on 9 March.

IHE Chief Executive, Alex Proudfoot said:

“Independent providers have waited a long time for a regulatory system which welcomes them in and celebrates their diversity. They are ready to contribute to the richness of the English higher education experience and the social mobility of our citizens young and old.”

“The registration system launched today by the Office for Students is risk-based regulation fit for the modern world of higher education but it expects a lot from providers. The government may need to lend a helping hand to the smallest institutions, and those which have operated outside the public funding system for many years, if students are to have the greatest possible choice for their higher education.”

“The real work of the Office for Students starts today, and there will be challenges ahead to ensure that high-quality providers of all shapes and sizes can join the expanding regulated sector. The removal of the Basic registration category will put these challenges under the spotlight, and risks excluding many providers initially. We have therefore agreed to assist the OfS in reaching out to those who do not register in April, to work together to enhance our understanding of the higher education they provide, and to find ways of supporting them to join in the future so that more students can benefit from the opportunities they offer.”


  1. About Independent Higher Education 
    Independent Higher Education is the UK membership organisation and national representative body for independent providers of higher education, professional training and pathways.
  2. For further information on the independent higher education sector, please see our report from The Independent Higher Education Survey 2017 which can be found here –
  3. For further information or interviews, please contact Joy Elliott-Bowman, Policy and Public Affairs Manager at Independent Higher Education, on 020 7608 8453 or at
  • On 28th February 2018