Uniac - July 2022

24 In 2019, the former Director of the Office for Fair Access, Professor Sir Les Ebdon, said: "While Ministers might have intended the impact of the recent changes to higher education regulation to have been favourable to smaller and specialist providers, it certainly does not feel like this for these institutions. The myriad of regulatory requirements being thrown at providers are challenging. This paper considers some of the burdens of the OfS Regulatory Framework on small and specialist providers of higher education. In gaining access to the Register of Higher Education, providers at that point must prove compliance with the initial conditions. In moving forward, they must remain compliant with the ongoing conditions of Registration, often without the breadth or depth of administrative support available to large, established institutions. They are less likely to have access to complex modelling software / expertise to scenario plan, monitor and evaluate student outcomes and probably feel there is little evidence to date of 'light touch regulation'. In addition to the regulatory framework, there is a burgeoning array of briefing papers and guidance notes with OfS's own limited resources to undertake assurance exercises such as regulatory effectiveness reviews. There has been a year-on-year increase in the number of published regulatory documents (from 29 in 2017/18 to 82 in 2019/20). For smaller providers, where regulatory compliance may fall to one or two individuals (in addition to other duties), it is simply too arduous to respond to all consultations and retain and cross-reference the potential impacts of what is being proposed / required. We consider some practical ways in which small providers can stay on top of regulatory requirements and make decisions about how to prioritise current and new requirements. The Higher Education and Research Act (Part 1 2(2)(a))15 outlines the General Duties of the OfS, to have regard to "choice in the provision of higher education amongst a diverse range of types of provider". In other words, the OfS should be supporting choice in the diversity of Higher Education provision, and therefore needs to have regard to protecting the diversity of providers available to students. 15 https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2017/29/pdfs/ukpga_20170029_en.pdf Background 5. Small and specialist providers: Responding to and managing OfS Regulatory Requirements – November 2021 (Uniac and GuildHE)