The higher education market Contents


Over 2 million people are students at higher education institutions in England, mostly at universities. The Department for Education (the Department) provides £9 billion of up-front funding each year for higher education in England in the form of grants and tuition fees, equivalent to £7,903 per student, up from £6 billion in 2007/08. Some 85% of up-front funding now directly follows student choice (up from 23% in 2007/08) via tuition fee loans, which the government increased from £3,000 per year to a maximum of £9,000 in 2012. The government also removed caps on the number of students institutions could accept from 2015/16 to allow popular providers to expand and more young people to access higher education.

The Department introduced further reforms to the higher education market through the Higher Education and Research Act 2017. The Department’s objectives for the reforms included introducing more competition and wider variety of options (for example, two-year accelerated degrees or online courses) into the higher education market. The Department also intended for the reforms to foster excellent teaching, ensure students could make informed choices, and increase access to higher education among students from disadvantaged backgrounds. The reforms included setting up a new market regulator, the Office for Students (OfS), whose remit is to support a competitive environment, promote choice, quality and value for money in the interests of students and the taxpayer.

Published: 15 June 2018