Higher Education and Research Act 2017

JurisdictionUK Non-devolved
Citation2017 c. 29


Higher Education and Research Act 2017

2017 Chapter 29

An Act to make provision about higher education and research; and to make provision about alternative payments to students in higher or further education.

[27 April 2017]

Be it enacted by the Queen’s most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:—

1 The Office for Students

Part 1

The Office for Students

Establishment of the Office for Students

Establishment of the Office for Students

S-1 The Office for Students

1 The Office for Students

(1) A body corporate called the Office for Students is established.

(2) In this Act that body is referred to as “the OfS”.

(3) Schedule 1 contains further provision about the OfS.

S-2 General duties

2 General duties

(1) In performing its functions, the OfS must have regard to—

(a)

(a) the need to protect the institutional autonomy of English higher education providers,

(b)

(b) the need to promote quality, and greater choice and opportunities for students, in the provision of higher education by English higher education providers,

(c)

(c) the need to encourage competition between English higher education providers in connection with the provision of higher education where that competition is in the interests of students and employers, while also having regard to the benefits for students and employers resulting from collaboration between such providers,

(d)

(d) the need to promote value for money in the provision of higher education by English higher education providers,

(e)

(e) the need to promote equality of opportunity in connection with access to and participation in higher education provided by English higher education providers,

(f)

(f) the need to use the OfS’s resources in an efficient, effective and economic way, and

(g)

(g) so far as relevant, the principles of best regulatory practice, including the principles that regulatory activities should be—

(i) transparent, accountable, proportionate and consistent, and

(ii) targeted only at cases in which action is needed.

(2) The reference in subsection (1)(b) to choice in the provision of higher education by English higher education providers includes choice amongst a diverse range of—

(a)

(a) types of provider,

(b)

(b) higher education courses, and

(c)

(c) means by which they are provided (for example, full-time or part-time study, distance learning or accelerated courses).

(3) In performing its functions, including its duties under subsection (1), the OfS must have regard to guidance given to it by the Secretary of State.

(4) In giving such guidance, the Secretary of State must have regard to the need to protect the institutional autonomy of English higher education providers.

(5) The guidance may, in particular, be framed by reference to particular courses of study but, whether or not the guidance is framed in that way, it must not relate to—

(a)

(a) particular parts of courses of study,

(b)

(b) the content of such courses,

(c)

(c) the manner in which they are taught, supervised or assessed,

(d)

(d) the criteria for the selection, appointment or dismissal of academic staff, or how they are applied, or

(e)

(e) the criteria for the admission of students, or how they are applied.

(6) Guidance framed by reference to a particular course of study must not guide the OfS to perform a function in a way which prohibits or requires the provision of a particular course of study.

(7) Guidance given by the Secretary of State to the OfS which relates to English higher education providers must apply to such providers generally or to a description of such providers.

(8) In this Part, “the institutional autonomy of English higher education providers” means—

(a)

(a) the freedom of English higher education providers within the law to conduct their day to day management in an effective and competent way,

(b)

(b) the freedom of English higher education providers—

(i) to determine the content of particular courses and the manner in which they are taught, supervised and assessed,

(ii) to determine the criteria for the selection, appointment and dismissal of academic staff and apply those criteria in particular cases, and

(iii) to determine the criteria for the admission of students and apply those criteria in particular cases, and

(c)

(c) the freedom within the law of academic staff at English higher education providers—

(i) to question and test received wisdom, and

(ii) to put forward new ideas and controversial or unpopular opinions,

without placing themselves in jeopardy of losing their jobs or privileges they may have at the providers.

The register of English higher education providers

The register of English higher education providers

S-3 The register

3 The register

(1) The OfS must establish and maintain a register of English higher education providers (referred to in this Part as “the register”).

(2) The register may be divided by the OfS into different parts representing such different categories of registration as the OfS may determine.

(3) The OfS must register an institution in the register (or, where it has been divided into parts, in a particular part of the register) if—

(a)

(a) its governing body applies for it to be registered in the register (or in that part),

(b)

(b) it is, or intends to become, an English higher education provider,

(c)

(c) it satisfies the initial registration conditions applicable to it in respect of the registration sought (see section 5), and

(d)

(d) the application complies with any requirements imposed under subsection (5).

(4) The OfS may not otherwise register an institution in the register.

(5) The OfS may determine—

(a)

(a) the form of an application for registration in the register (or in a particular part of the register),

(b)

(b) the information to be contained in it or provided with it, and

(c)

(c) the manner in which an application is to be submitted.

(6) The Secretary of State may by regulations make provision about the information which must be contained in an institution’s entry in the register.

(7) Once registered, an institution’s ongoing registration is subject to satisfying—

(a)

(a) the general ongoing registration conditions applicable to it at the time of its registration and as they may be later revised (see section 5), and

(b)

(b) the specific ongoing registration conditions (if any) imposed on it at the time of its registration and as they may be later varied (see section 6).

(8) References in this Part to the ongoing registration conditions of an institution are to the conditions mentioned in subsection (7)(a) and (b).

(9) The OfS must make the information contained in the register, and the information previously contained in it, publicly available by such means as it considers appropriate.

(10) In this Part—

(a)

(a) a “registered higher education provider” means an institution which is registered in the register, and

(b)

(b) references to “registration” are to be read accordingly.

S-4 Registration procedure

4 Registration procedure

(1) Before refusing an application to register an institution, the OfS must notify the governing body of the institution of its intention to do so.

(2) The notice must—

(a)

(a) specify the OfS’s reasons for proposing to refuse to register the institution,

(b)

(b) specify the period during which the governing body of the institution may make representations about the proposal (“the specified period”), and

(c)

(c) specify the way in which those representations may be made.

(3) The specified period must not be less than 28 days beginning with the date on which the notice is received.

(4) The OfS must have regard to any representations made by the governing body of the institution during the specified period in deciding whether to register it in the register.

(5) Having decided whether or not to register the institution, the OfS must notify the governing body of the institution of its decision.

(6) Where the decision is to register the institution, the notice must—

(a)

(a) specify the date of entry in the register, and

(b)

(b) specify the ongoing registration conditions of the institution at that time.

(7) Where the decision is to refuse to register the institution, the notice must contain information as to the grounds for the refusal.

Registration conditions

Registration conditions

S-5 The initial and general ongoing registration conditions

5 The initial and general ongoing registration conditions

(1) The OfS must determine and publish—

(a)

(a) the initial registration conditions, and

(b)

(b) the general ongoing registration conditions.

(2) Different conditions may be determined—

(a)

(a) for different descriptions of provider;

(b)

(b) for registration in different parts of the register.

(3) The OfS may revise the conditions.

(4) If the OfS revises the conditions, it must publish them as revised.

(5) Before determining or revising the conditions, the OfS must, if it appears to it appropriate to do so, consult bodies representing the interests of English higher education providers which appear to the OfS to be concerned.

(6) The OfS may, at the time of an institution’s registration or later, decide that a particular general ongoing registration condition is not applicable to it.

(7) Where the decision is made...

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