Access and participation plans

Variation requests

Any time after an access and participation plan has been approved, providers may request a variation to any part of that plan.

A variation request includes any change to:

  • a provider’s approved access and participation plan
  • a provider's targets and investment plan or fees, investments and targets (FIT) document
  • a provider’s fee levels within the period that the plan is in effect, including those returned within annual fee information return.

A variation of a plan will be subject to the same assessment, approval and review process as a whole plan and can take up to 12 weeks to complete.

A variation that would result in a reduction in the level or rate of progress, or that would impact on support to students, would require a compelling justification.

Variations for 2023-24

In February 2022, we announced that we would be asking all providers to submit variations to their plans, to take effect from 2023-24, to respond to our new priorities for access and participation.

On 12 April we published advice providing full details on how providers can do this. Providers were able to submit variation requests from 1 May–31 July 2022.

We have now published a summary of the responses we received, and where relevant set out next steps.

Assessment process

  1. Once a provider has submitted a variation request, we'll check that we have all the required information to be able to carry out an assessment.
  2. An OfS assessor will undertake an assessment of the variation request and may contact the provider with queries throughout this process.
  3. Following the assessment process, the OfS assessor will make a recommendation to the OfS's Director for Fair Access and Participation who will consider the variation and decide if it should be approved.
  4. The provider will be notified of the decision.
  5. If the variation is approved, the provider must publish the revised approved access and participation plan, including completed plan summary on its website. The revised full plan will also be published on the OfS website.

If the variation is not approved, the provider can make representations and request a review of the decision. The process for this is set out in Regulatory notice 1.

Published 25 October 2021
Last updated 09 February 2023
09 February 2023
The page has been updated to reflect the outcomes report we have published about the process of submitting variations to plans.
09 June 2022
Minor update clarifying that it is up to providers to decide how to present changes to their access and participation plans
12 April 2022
Updated with information for variations for 2023-24
15 March 2022
Notice added - all providers will need to submit variations to their plans to take effect from 2023-24 to respond to our new priorities for access and participation

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