Our engagement with providers

This page describes our approach to engaging with the higher education providers the Office for Students regulates.

Provider visits

We visit higher education providers to ensure two-way engagement on our approach to regulation and issues facing the sector.

Visiting higher education providers on our Register helps us develop our understanding of the context in which they operate and the challenges they face.

Visits also provide an opportunity for staff and students to hear about our approach to regulation, our priorities, and to ask questions and provide feedback.

These visits are part of our wider commitment to increasing our engagement with the sector we regulate.

We ran a series of pilot visits in early summer 2023 to a wide range of providers across England.

On each visit, we meet students and staff and hear more about their experiences and any challenges they face.

The feedback we received from those visited was positive and we have decided to extend our visit programme to more universities and colleges.

England’s higher education sector is diverse, made up of different universities and colleges with different missions and working in different regions and contexts. It is important that our visit programme reflects this diversity.

In each block of visits we select providers from our Register at random, and then check the selection to make sure it appropriately reflects the diversity of the sector.

Our pilot visits underlined the importance of hearing from providers and teams from across the OfS have been interested in the themes emerging from those conversations.

We see visits as a key part of our engagement with the sector we regulate.



Engaging with accountable officers

Each provider on our Register has an approved ‘accountable officer’. The accountable officer is the person, normally the head of the provider, who reports to the OfS on behalf of the provider. We explain the role of an accountable officer in more detail in Part C of Regulatory advice 10.

We engage with accountable officers in a number of ways.

Our chief executive sends an email twice a month to accountable officers. These include updates about important information, OfS consultations, new regulatory guidance, upcoming events, and our wider work.

They also include a reminder of the senior member of OfS staff who is the provider’s contact.

We host quarterly webinars for accountable officers where they can hear directly from our chief executive and senior team about current and upcoming OfS priorities, and learn more about particular topics.

Starting in September 2023, all newly appointed accountable officers will be offered an introductory meeting or call with a senior member of staff.

This will allow those new to the role to hear more about our approach to regulation and ask any questions they may have.

Engaging with students

The student voice is essential in shaping our work.

Read more about our student engagement strategy.

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Published 04 September 2023

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