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.
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:
- Are supported to access, succeed in, and progress from, higher education.
- Receive a high-quality academic experience, and their interests are protected while they study or in the event of provider, campus or course closure.
- Are able to progress into employment or further study, and their qualifications hold their value over time.
- Receive value for money.
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:
|Condition||Responsible Committee/Group||Responsible Team|
|A1-2: Access and participation plan||Student Recruitment, Admissions and Funding Committee||Access and Admissions|
|B1-5: Quality and Standards||Academic Regulations and Quality Assurance Sub-Committee; Student Experience Committee||Academic Services; Office Vice-Provost Education & Student Affairs / Student Support and Wellbeing|
|B6: TEF participation||Education Committee||Office Vice-Provost Education & Student Affairs|
|C1: Guidance on consumer protection law||Student Recruitment, Admissions and Funding Committee||Access and Admissions|
|C2: Consumer complaints scheme||Academic Committee||Academic Services|
|C3: Student Protection Plan||Academic Committee||Access and Admissions|
|D: Financial viability and sustainability||Finance Committee||Finance and Business Affairs|
|E1: Public interest governance||Council||Council Secretariat|
|E2: Management and governance||Council||Council Secretariat|
|E3: Accountability||Finance Committee||Finance and Business Affairs|
|E4: Notification of changes to the Register||Council||Registrar's Office|
|E5: Facilitation of electoral registration||Student Experience Committee||Student Support and Wellbeing|
|F1: Transparency information||Student Recruitment, Admissions and Funding Committee||Access and Admissions; Academic Services|
|F2: Student transfer arrangements||Academic Regulations and Quality Assurance Sub-Committee||Academic Services|
|F3: Provision of information to the OfS||Audit Committee||Registrar's Office|
|F4: Provision of information to the DDB [HESA]||Audit Committee||Academic Services|
|G1: Mandatory fee limit||Student Recruitment, Admissions and Funding Committee||Access and Admissions|
|G2: Compliance with terms and conditions of financial support||Finance Committee||Finance and Business Affairs|
|G3: Payment of OfS and designated body fees||Finance Committee||Finance and Business Affairs|
|Z3: Temporary provisions for sector stability and integrity||Student Recruitment, Admissions and Funding Committee||Access 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:
- Wendy Appleby, Registrar and Head of Student and Registry Services (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Sarah West, Deputy Registrar (email@example.com)
- Hannah Swallow, Senior Compliance Officer (firstname.lastname@example.org)
If you have any questions relating to the OfS please contact email@example.com in the first instance.