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Office for Students outlines significant cuts to bureaucracy

Nicola Dandridge, chief executive of the OfS
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The @OfficeStudents (OfS), the independent regulator for higher education in England, has set out measures to reduce unnecessary burden on universities and other higher education providers.

Plans set out today (10 Sept) include a cut to registration fees, while the National Student Survey (NSS) will also be reviewed as part of plans to cut red tape on an ongoing basis.

Commenting, Nicola Dandridge, chief executive of the OfS, said:

‘The OfS recognises the difficulties facing all universities and colleges during this time. As a result we have decided to review our own efficiency, our objective being a reduction in registration fees paid by higher education providers registered with the OfS by 10 per cent in real terms over the next two years. We will do so in a way which continues to ensure that the interests of students are effectively and robustly protected.

‘As part of this review, we expect the Quality Assurance Agency and the Higher Education Statistics Agency, as the two bodies designated under the Higher Education and Research Act, to deliver comparable reductions in the statutory fees they charge.

‘We welcome the government’s guidance on other measures to reduce unnecessary burden. The OfS board will carefully consider this guidance and have regard to it when deciding any action to take in response.

‘On the NSS, our review will seek to reduce any unnecessary bureaucracy, prevent any unintended consequences and gaming of the survey, whilst ensuring that the NSS stands the test of time as an important indicator of students’ opinions and experiences at every level.

‘The OfS remains firmly committed to robust and proportionate regulation, in the interests of every student. Any changes we make to the implementation of our regulatory framework will ensure that maintaining quality and improving access and participation for the most disadvantaged students remain at the core of our mission.’

The OfS’s business plan for 2020-21 includes a programme aimed at reducing bureaucracy and ensuring regulatory burden on providers is the minimum necessary to deliver our regulatory objectives, in line with commitments made in the regulatory framework.

Today (10 Sept) the Department for Education and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy jointly released a statement on reducing bureaucracy in higher education and research, which set out a combination of measures planned by the OfS and actions suggested by the government for the OfS’s board to consider.

The government’s plans achieve significant reductions in bureaucracy for the research, innovation and university sectors. This policy paper follows announcements made on 4 May 2020 and June 2020.

Documents: Reducing bureaucratic burden in research, innovation and higher education

Frequently asked questions about our approach to reducing burden and the DFE and BEIS statement

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