HEFCW Students

We aim to help universities and colleges to deliver the best possible experience for higher education (HE) students in Wales.

Working in partnership

The Quality Assessment Framework for Wales places a focus on working in partnership with students and, along with our guidance on Student Charters, we have developed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with NUS Wales to help address this.

The MoU commits us to pursuing activities of mutual interest and sharing expertise and information and outlines how we will work together to address the needs of students.

We and the Welsh Government appointed Old Bell3 Research to assess the current state of student partnership, engagement and representation in Wales, in order to support an integrated approach across the Post-Compulsory Education and Training (PCET) sector.

Student Partnership in Welsh Higher Education and Further Education Institutions highlighted a number of areas of good practice, such as integrating student partnership into strategic decision-making and embedding more nuanced approaches into gathering students’ views.

Case studies also emphasised the need for students to be kept informed as to how their views are taken on board and implemented.

Student Voice in Governance

The student voice informs governing bodies and its committees across all institutions providing higher education in Wales. Case studies detailing this were submitted by Welsh institutions.

The best practices from these case studies were included in The influence of the student voice in governance to promote what is being done across Wales. The impact such practices can have both on the institution and the student body were detailed in Why students are involved in the governance of institutions providing higher education in Wales.


The student experience and participation in quality and engagement at higher education (HE) institutions have come increasingly to the fore in recent years. This is embedded in our Quality Assessment Framework.

Student Charters

We have published guidance on the development of student charters. We require all regulated and/ or funded institutions to have a student charter from 2012/13. We have kept the guidance under review, with the most recent update in 2019.

Student protection

The student charter guidance requires regulated and/or funded institutions to provide a high level statement to advise their students what would happen if their course or institution ceased to exist. We have agreed a student protection statement with Universities Wales, which can be adopted or adapted by any higher education provider as appropriate.

“The University will service its contractual obligations to students and comply with its commitments under consumer law as outlined by the Competition and Markets Authority. In doing so, Universities will work to protect the student interest when responding to circumstances such as significant changes to how a course is delivered or course closure. The University has in place procedures to respond to these circumstances which will mitigate the potential impact on students and which recognise the different needs of its diverse student body.”

This statement or an equivalent has been required to be included in all student charters from 2019/20.

Students’ Union Funding

We have published guidance on good practice in funding of effective, democratic students’ unions, and student representation for consultation. This includes: principles which should underpin the funding of Students’ Unions (SUs); principles which should underpin the relationship agreement between the SU and the institution; and a common set of core functions which all SUs should provide. These were required to be in place by 2012/13. We revised the guidance in 2014.


The Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA) can accept complaints from students, or former students, of Welsh providers registered with them. Complaints can be about anything a provider has done or failed to do, eg regarding a programme of study, a service or a final decision of the provider’s disciplinary or appeal body. Complainants must have exhausted the institution’s own procedures first.

Students and former students can also complain to HEFCW about systematic problems about quality and standards within their institutions. Again they must normally have completed the institution’s own procedures first

Prospective students have access to public information, which includes the outcomes of the National Student Survey (NSS), the Unistats website and Key Information Sets (KIS). Information which should be provided to students and prospective students is set out by the Competition and Markets Authority.

National Student Survey (NSS)

The NSS gathers feedback on student satisfaction with their course. It has been operating annually since 2005. Outcomes of the ten year review of the NSS are available on the Office for Students website.

The NSS is conducted in all higher education (HE) institutions and directly funded further education institutions in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Some Scottish HE institutions have chosen to participate in the NSS.

The results of the most recent NSS are published on the Discover Uni website, which includes information to help you

  • Decide if uni is right for you
  • Choose what and where to study
  • Find and compare courses

NSS data from previous years are available on the Office for Students website. More detailed NSS results are available to institutions and students’ unions for internal purposes, via the NSS providers’ website. This includes anonymised qualitative comments, which are not published.

The development of public information about HE, including the NSS, is overseen by the Student Information and Advisory Group (SIG), which comprises the funders/regulators and governments of each country UK nation.

Postgraduate Taught Information

We and the other UK higher education funding bodies have been supporting improvements in information provision for prospective postgraduate taught students.

Research has been published that identifies particular information needs for postgraduate students. It has produced recommendations for higher education institutions and the HE sector to improve information for a diverse audience of prospective postgraduate students.