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We work with all universities and colleges across the UK who deliver higher education programmes to assure the quality of the student experience.

Higher education providers can be classified into four categories. Each will undergo external quality assurance for different reasons.


There are 168 universities in the UK, the majority of these are publicly funded. Four are private and do not receive public grant funding. University title is a term protected by law and may only be used by those providers that have been granted the title by government. Some universities have held the title for centuries, but to gain a UK university title today a provider must meet certain criteria. 

Publicly-Funded Higher Education providers

These are colleges, university colleges or smaller specialist institutions such as conservatoires. Not all these providers have degree awarding powers. Universities that receive grant funding may be known as ‘publicly funded’.

Further Education Colleges

There are more than 200 further education colleges that provide higher education programmes, most are publicly funded. Some have the power to award their own degrees, but the majority provide programmes leading to an award from a partner degree-awarding body (normally a university). 

All the above publicly-funded providers are obliged to undergo external quality assurance or assessment. The four bodies that allocate public funding are required by law to ensure that provision is made for the assessment of the quality of the education at providers they fund.

Visit our Reviewing higher education section for more information.