Office for Students responds to HEPI policy note on the financial health of universities

The Office for Students responds to a new survey of student attitudes to the financial health of their university.

Responding to a Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) policy note on student views on the financial health of universities, Nicola Dandridge, chief executive of the Office for Students, said:

'This research provides a useful student perspective to the debate around the financial sustainability of the higher education sector in England. It is good to see a significant majority of students think their university is doing well financially. That is consistent with our current analysis; we do not have significant or widespread concerns about the financial viability or sustainability of the sector.

'All universities and other higher education providers which register with the Office for Students must demonstrate to us that they are financially viable and sustainable. There are currently 317 universities and other higher education providers on our register. Were we to have particular concerns about the financial sustainability or viability of a provider, we would impose a condition to their registration or otherwise intervene as a way of seeking to prevent a disorderly financial failure and to protect the interests of students. None of the providers we have registered have been issued with such a condition. But if that assessment were to change, we would intervene precisely to protect the interests of students. We have extensive powers to achieve that outcome.

'We have been clear that – as a regulator – we will not be providing bail-outs to providers who might find themselves in financial difficulties. Bail-outs would only provide a temporary and artificial life raft, would not be a good use of public money, and would not be in the long-term interests of students or the taxpayer.

'But we have been equally clear that we will continue to monitor universities and other providers for early signs of financial difficulties and intervene where necessary. We want universities with financial concerns to approach us early so that we can work with them to consider options to improve their finances, such as mergers of institutions or courses.

'All universities and other higher education providers must set out the steps they will take to protect students in the event of course, campus or institutional closure. It is clear from this survey that there is more to be done to ensure that students are able to easily access and understand student protection plans, which universities must publish.'

For further information contact Sean Beynon on 07795 257 374 or 0117 905 7676, or email [email protected].


  1. The Office for Students is the independent regulator for higher education in England. Our aim is to ensure that every student, whatever their background, has a fulfilling experience of higher education that enriches their lives and careers.

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