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Institutional assurance

HEFCW’s role involves assuring itself that institutions are being run appropriately. We do this through two main means – funding (and attaching direct conditions to the terms of that funding) and by direct regulation, with powers granted to us through the Higher Education (Wales) Act 2015.

Funding

We must ensure that funds received from the Welsh Government and spent by institutions (and other bodies that receive HEFCW funds) are spent appropriately. We do this in a variety of ways, such as assurance review work, monitoring the organisations’ financial health and undertaking regular reviews of their estates and capital development plans.

We have a Memorandum of Assurance and Accountability (circular W15/32HE) with each university, which sets out the terms and conditions attached to HEFCW’s funding.

Regulation

HEFCW has a number of powers under the Higher Education (Wales) Act 2015 over regulated institutions. A ‘regulated institution’ is, simply put, a charity in Wales that delivers Higher Education and which receives student support (i.e. income from student loans) for doing so. All mainstream universities in Wales are currently regulated institutions.

Our Access to Information policy includes details of:
  • The Fee and Access Plan, which defines the maximum fee an institution can charge a student. In order to be able to charge for student support (i.e. income from student loans), an institution must define and meet targets and objectives over a number of areas, such as widening access to education*;
  • The Financial Management Code, which defines our requirements for how the institution should organise and manage its finances to ensure future sustainability, and to gain assurance over how they are run;
  • Quality Assurance mechanisms, which aim to ensure the quality of teaching delivered.

(*Note that this is a simplified case, as institutions may also apply for student support on an individual course-by-course basis, where the maximum fee is £6000. These individual applications do not require a fee and access plan. This is known as ‘specific designation’. An explanation of the differences is on our Course designation page.)

Our Statement of Intervention outlines how we will intervene if an institution doesn’t meet our requirements.

Detailed explanation of HEFCW powers under 2015 Act

Funding vs Regulation

It is important to note that some institutions may be in receipt of funding only, some may be regulated under the 2015 Act only, and some may fall under both areas. Generally speaking, when it comes to financial requirements, the powers under the 2015 Act take precedence where there is an overlap.

Charity Commission

We have a Memorandum of Understanding with the Charity Commission for England and Wales which sets out how we will work together and share information to co-ordinate our regulatory activities with respect to higher education institutions in Wales.

Complaints about institutions failing to meet our requirements

If you think an institution has failed to abide by the requirements we set out in the documents above, you can make a complaint or an allegation. More information can be found on the Allegations concerning institutions page.

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