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The Office for Students (OfS) is a non-departmental public body of the Department for Education, acting as the regulator and competition authority for the
higher education Higher education is tertiary education leading to award of an academic degree. Higher education, also called post-secondary education, third-level or tertiary education, is an optional final stage of formal learning that occurs after completion o ...
sector in England. In February 2021, James Wharton, Baron Wharton of Yarm was made the new chair.


History

The regulator was established by the Higher Education and Research Act 2017, coming into existence on 1 January 2018. It merged the
Higher Education Funding Council for England The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) was a non-departmental public body in the United Kingdom, which was responsible for the distribution of funding for higher education to universities and further education colleges in Engl ...
and the Office for Fair Access, and formally inherited their responsibilities, while 'working in the interests of students and prospective students' and having 'a wider remit ... taking charge of the granting of degree awarding powers and university title.' The OfS inherited HEFCE's funding responsibilities (aside from those for research which passed to United Kingdom Research and Innovation), and OFFA's responsibility for promoting fair access to higher education.


Responsibilities

The OfS website lists its main areas of work as: # Helping students to get into and succeed in higher education. # Helping students stay informed. # Making sure that students get a high-quality education that prepares them for the future. # Protecting students’ interests. It notes that it is not responsible for tuition fees, students loans or other aspects of individual student funding, and that it cannot usually get involved in individual complaints about universities and colleges. The OfS's other functions include the administration of the Teaching Excellence Framework and the Register of higher education providers. It is responsible both for administering the CONTEST#Prevent, prevent duty and for ensuring that universities allow freedom of speech for controversial guest speakers.


Leadership

The current OfS Chair is James Wharton, Baron Wharton of Yarm, Lord Wharton and its Chief Executive is Nicola Dandridge. They both serve on the OfS board, along with: * Martin Coleman (deputy chair), formerly Norton Rose Fulbright * Gurpreet Dehal, formerly Credit Suisse * Elizabeth Fagan, managing director of Boots UK, Boots * Katja Hall, formerly of HSBC * Verity Hancock, Principal and Chief Executive of Leicester College * Kathryn King, former Chief Legal Ombudsman for England and Wales * Kate Lander, Eukleia Training * Simon Levine, CEO of DLA Piper * Martha Longdon, student representative * Chris Millward, Director for Fair Access and Participation, formerly HEFCE * David Palfreyman, Director of the Oxford Centre for Higher Education Policy Studies * Monisha Shah, chair of Rose Bruford College * Steve West (university administrator), Steve West, vice-chancellor of University of the West of England, Bristol, UWE The board is advised by a panel of students.


Controversy

The appointment of Toby Young to the board, announced on 1 January 2018, generated controversy over his suitability for the post. As at 8 January 2018, over 200,000 people had signed an online petition protesting his appointment. In response to questioning the Theresa May, Prime Minister declared herself comfortable with his appointment, while the Universities minister defended him in the House of Commons. After criticism from leading Tory MPs, Young resigned on that day, claiming he had been turned into a caricature.


See also

* Research Councils UK * Higher Education Funding Council for Wales * Higher Education Statistics Agency (based in Cheltenham) * UCAS * Jisc * Research Excellence Framework * Teaching Excellence Framework


References


External links

{{authority control Funding bodies of England Government agencies established in 2018 Higher education authorities Higher education in England Non-departmental public bodies of the United Kingdom government Organisations based in Bristol Regulators of England Statutory corporations of the United Kingdom government 2018 establishments in England Students in the United Kingdom