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Course Design Blueprint

The Office for Students (OfS)

The Office for Students is a non-departmental public body that is attached to the Department of Education (DoE).  It is England’s regulatory body for Higher Education, working in the interests of students and prospective students, funded jointly by the DoE and through fees payable by HE institutions. 

Operating to a Regulatory framework, the OfS maintains a register of Higher Education providers.  Such providers have to demonstrate that they meet specific conditions associated with:

  • ensuring fair access to provision,
  • quality, standards and student outcomes,
  • protecting students’ interests,
  • financial stability, good governance, and accountability
  • provision of information to students.

As stated on their website, activities of the OfS include:

Action and Participation Plans

All Higher Education Institutions registered with the OfS are required to have an agreed Access and Participation Plan (APP) in place.  These set out plans for improving access to Higher Education for underrepresented groups (such as by ethnicity, disability or levels of deprivation) and to improve the success and post-graduation progression of these students.  The OfS publish all APPs on their website.

The University has a plan in place on which it is required to report progress against targets and written commitments each year.  The targets each relate to key performance indicators employed by the OfS, each reported by ethnicity, deprivation, HE participation by locality, disability and age:

  • Access: proportions of new students within each sub-population
  • Continuation: proportion of each sub-population remaining in higher education one year following entry (two years for part-time students)
  • Attainment: proportion of each sub-population studying on an honours degree that achieve a first or upper second classification.
  • Progression: proportion of each subpopulation progressing into highly skilled employment or higher level study.

Data for each HE institution is on the OfS website.