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Office for Students (OfS)

Find out about the Office for Students (OfS), its objectives and regulatory framework and the responsibilities of key groups and individuals for UCL's compliance with the OfS regulations.

Introduction

The Office for Students (OfS) was established by the Higher Education and Research Act 2017. It came into existence in 2018 and is the independent regulator of higher education in England. By being registered with the OfS a provider can access public grant funding, maintain a visa licence allowing the recruitment of international students, and apply for degree awarding powers in order to award their own degrees, and/or university title.

The establishment of the OfS represents a move away from the sector body being a funding council (Higher Education Funding Council for England) to a regulator. It was felt that this was needed due to the marketisation of the HE sector. The focus is now on protecting and supporting the student. The four primary objectives of the OfS are that all students, from all backgrounds, and with the ability and desire to undertake higher education:

  1. Are supported to access, succeed in, and progress from, higher education.
  2. Receive a high-quality academic experience, and their interests are protected while they study or in the event of provider, campus or course closure.
  3. Are able to progress into employment or further study, and their qualifications hold their value over time.
  4. Receive value for money.

Regulatory Framework

Under the OfS regulatory framework there are 24 conditions of registration that we must continue to meet to remain a registered provider. The table below shows each condition and the mapping to a relevant professional services team at UCL as well as committees or groups who would be responsible for the monitoring of the condition:

ConditionResponsible Committee/GroupResponsible Team
A1-2: Access and participation planStudent Recruitment, Admissions and Funding CommitteeAccess and Admissions
B1-5: Quality and StandardsAcademic Regulations and Quality Assurance Sub-Committee; Student Experience CommitteeAcademic Services; Office Vice-Provost Education & Student Affairs / Student Support and Wellbeing 
B6: TEF participationEducation CommitteeOffice Vice-Provost Education & Student Affairs 
C1: Guidance on consumer protection lawStudent Recruitment, Admissions and Funding CommitteeAccess and Admissions
C2: Consumer complaints schemeAcademic CommitteeAcademic Services
C3: Student Protection PlanAcademic CommitteeAccess and Admissions
D: Financial viability and sustainabilityFinance CommitteeFinance and Business Affairs
E1: Public interest governanceCouncilCouncil Secretariat
E2: Management and governanceCouncilCouncil Secretariat
E3: AccountabilityFinance CommitteeFinance and Business Affairs
E4: Notification of changes to the RegisterCouncilRegistrar's Office
E5: Facilitation of electoral registrationStudent Experience CommitteeStudent Support and Wellbeing
F1: Transparency informationStudent Recruitment, Admissions and Funding CommitteeAccess and Admissions; Academic Services
F2: Student transfer arrangementsAcademic Regulations and Quality Assurance Sub-CommitteeAcademic Services
F3: Provision of information to the OfSAudit CommitteeRegistrar's Office
F4: Provision of information to the DDB [HESA]Audit CommitteeAcademic Services
G1: Mandatory fee limitStudent Recruitment, Admissions and Funding CommitteeAccess and Admissions
G2: Compliance with terms and conditions of financial supportFinance CommitteeFinance and Business Affairs
G3: Payment of OfS and designated body feesFinance CommitteeFinance and Business Affairs
Z3: Temporary provisions for sector stability and integrityStudent Recruitment, Admissions and Funding CommitteeAccess and Admissions

Roles and Responsibilities

The OfS has placed providers' governing bodies firmly at the heart of its regulatory framework, making them responsible for the oversight and governance of registration. However, the OfS requires each provider to have an Accountable Officer, who reports to the OfS on the provider's behalf. At UCL this is the President and Provost. In practice, on a day-to-day basis, the Compliance Team in the Registrar's Office carries out these duties on behalf of the Provost. The Compliance Team:

  • Liaises with the Provost's Office regarding any correspondence received by the accountable officer and disseminating as appropriate
  • Oversees the monitoring of compliance with OfS regulations
  • Facilitates UCL's engagement with consultations and reportable events
  • Offers guidance in relation to OfS matters and distributing any key communications received from the OfS
  • Provides an update on OfS matters for each Council meeting.

The responsible officers in the Registrar's Office are:

If you have any questions relating to the OfS please contact srs-compliance@ucl.ac.uk in the first instance.