Registration with the OfS

This guide explains what it means for a university or college – a higher education provider – to register with the Office for Students. It sets out why providers might register, which providers can do so and what conditions they must meet.

Benefits of registration

Providers choose to register with the OfS because it gives them access to specific benefits. These fall into broadly three areas:


All registered providers can recruit students who can access student support funding – or student loans – available through the Student Loans Company. The provider can charge these students fees up to the statutory limits, with different limits in place depending on the category in which a provider is registered. 

Registered providers can also, in different ways, receive direct funding to support their activities.

Providers in the Approved (fee cap) category of registration (see below) are eligible for funding to support:

  • the costs of teaching (available as ‘grant or recurrent funding’ from the OfS).
  • research activities across the provider (available from Research England)

All registered providers can apply for funding to support specific research projects through the research councils.

Recruiting international students

Registered providers can apply for – or maintain an existing – licence to recruit international students.

These ‘student sponsor licences’ are granted by the Home Office.

Power to award degrees and university title

All registered providers can also apply for the right to award their own degrees

They can apply for different types of degree awarding powers, which will allow them to award different types of degree (for example, foundation degrees, bachelors' degrees).

A registered provider can also apply for the right to use the word ‘university’ in its name.  

Categories of registration

Providers can choose to apply to register in one of two categories:

  • Approved (fee cap)
  • Approved.

Both categories give providers access to most of the same benefits. The main difference between them is that providers in the Approved (fee cap) category are:

  • able to charge eligible students fees up to the higher statutory fee limit if they have an approved access and participation plan
  • eligible for ‘direct grant funding’ to support the costs of teaching (through the OfS) and research activities (through Research England)
See the full list of benefits providers can access
Published 03 February 2022

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