Regulation

Our universities are overseen by multiple regulators and professional bodies across the United Kingdom, including the Devolved Administrations.

The Russell Group’s goal is to create a proportionate and risk-based regulatory system, that ensures high-quality education for our students while ensuring regulation does not create a disproportionate burden. This allows our universities to focus on delivering exceptional education, research, access programmes and outreach to their local communities.

We believe a quality education, student choice, institutional diversity, competition, collaboration and international competitiveness are built on a foundation of institutional autonomy – the freedom of universities to manage, teach, choose their staff and students, and that they are able to speak freely. The importance of that autonomy was recognised by the Government’s inclusion of it in the Higher Education and Research Act 2017.

Autonomy is also critical in enabling our universities to deliver for students across the Office for Student’s fundamental objectives on access, quality, consumer law and value for money. Our universities are leading innovators, and an overly interventionist regulatory approach would stifle their ability to adapt in a fast-moving environment.

Who regulates universities in the UK?

The Office for Students (OfS) regulates universities in England. Its aims are to ensure students get good value, teaching standards are high, that new higher education institutions are credible, and that universities are making efforts to widen participation. Universities in Scotland are regulated by the Scottish Funding Council, the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW) in Wales, and the Department for the Economy in Northern Ireland. We also engage with the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA).

The OfS also manages the teaching grant, which covers the cost of teaching university courses. This money also helps disadvantaged students, funds clinical placements, and covers additional costs for London institutions. Part of our role is highlighting to the regulator the impact reductions in funding have on the student experience and on the pipeline of keyworkers for the UK economy.

Teaching Excellence Framework

The Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) is currently paused but teaching in our universities is consistently ranked among the best in the country. We consult regularly with the OfS on the framework, offering suggestions on how to refine it and ensure the data is robust as possible so students can make informed choices about which courses to study and where.

Our priorities for TEF

Media Enquiries
Policy Enquiries