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Government ends moratorium on creation of new universities

The government has published new guidance on rules for gaining university and university college titles, degree awarding powers, and eligibility for Higher Education Funding Council for England funding, ending its moratorium on new universities and other HE institutions being created in the sector.

The move follows a pledge by universities minister Jo Johnson to re-open routes to university status and degree awarding powers for private and alternative providers. He told delegates at Universities UK’s annual conference that success in HE should be “based on merit, not on incumbency”, and that the government aimed to create a level playing field for all providers.

The new guidance open up application for university title to institutions with taught degree awarding powers and at least 1,000 full-time equivalent HE students, of whom at least 750 are registered on degree courses.

Institutions that do not have their own degree awarding powers can still apply if they have a validated or franchised arrangement with a university. However, the minister indicated that he wants to end what he sees as uncompetitive validation arrangements, and alternative options will be proposed in an HE green paper to be published soon.

Alternative providers will be able to apply for HEFCE funding provided that they can demonstrate high quality provision and a high standing or repute in an existing area or are bringing new or highly distinctive provision into the sector.

The guidance also invites further education colleges to apply to transfer into the higher education sector, under similar tests and rules.