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28 June 2011

HEFCE welcomes higher education White Paper

Sir Alan Langlands, Chief Executive of HEFCE, has welcomed the Government's White Paper, 'Higher education: students at the heart of the system' (Note 1).

The White Paper sets out proposals for the reform of higher education in England. The reforms are designed to improve financial sustainability, and to deliver higher education that is more responsive to student choice, provides a better student experience and helps improve social mobility.

The White Paper confirms the Government's intention to establish a new, fit-for-purpose regulatory framework for higher education. The arrangements, to take effect from 2013, will safeguard the interests of students and taxpayers while keeping bureaucracy to a minimum and ensuring that universities and colleges continue to have the academic freedom and incentives they need to deliver a high-quality student experience. HEFCE will have a new duty to take competition implications into account when making decisions on funding. A consultation on the detail of the new framework will run alongside the overall consultation on the White Paper (Note 2).

Sir Alan Langlands said:

'The Government's White Paper sets out an ambitious and challenging agenda for the reform of higher education in England, and a clear vision for a dynamic, responsive sector which has the interests of students at its heart.

'Our universities and colleges deliver world-class excellence in teaching and research. They benefit individuals and the country, and are vital to economic, social and cultural development. HEFCE looks forward to working with Government, the higher education sector and our partner agencies to build on this success.

'The White Paper proposes a new role for HEFCE as "lead regulator", working closely with other higher education bodies. The detail of this role will be subject to consultation, but our primary purpose - to protect the interests of students - is already clear.

'The White Paper heralds a period of significant change in the way teaching and learning are funded and overseen. HEFCE's priority will be to ensure a smooth transition to the new arrangements. As we play our part in developing and implementing the reforms in the White Paper, some aspects of our work will remain constant. We will continue to promote financial sustainability and the proper stewardship of public funding. We will continue to be guided by the fundamental principles - of opportunity, choice and excellence - which drive change in higher education. We will continue to respect the autonomy of universities and colleges. And we will continue to be an advocate for all that is good in higher education.'


  1. The White Paper is available on the BIS web-site.
  2. The consultation on the overall strategy for reform will run until 20 September (see BIS web-site for details of how to respond). There will be a specific consultation, which will run alongside the overall consultation, on a new regulatory framework for the higher education system. In addition, the Government has asked HEFCE to consult on teaching grant priorities and student number controls. The first stage of this consultation will set out proposals for 2012-13; the second stage will consult on arrangements for 2013-14 and beyond.
  3. Documents relating to the reform of higher education for 2012-13 are available, including the White Paper and a letter from the Secretary of State to HEFCE on taking forward proposals in the White Paper.