|Formed||1 January 2018|
|Type||Non-departmental public body|
|Parent department||Department for Education|
The regulator was established by the Higher Education and Research Act 2017, coming into existence on 1 January 2018. It merged the Higher Education Funding Council for England and the Office for Fair Access, and formally inherited their responsibilities, while 'working in the interests of students and prospective students' and having 'a wider remit ... taking charge of the granting of degree awarding powers and university title.' The OfS inherited HEFCE's funding responsibilities (aside from those for research which passed to United Kingdom Research and Innovation), and OFFA's responsibility for promoting fair access to higher education.
The OfS website lists its main areas of work as:
It notes that it is not responsible for tuition fees, students loans or other aspects of individual student funding, and that it cannot usually get involved in individual complaints about universities and colleges.
The OfS's other functions include the administration of the Teaching Excellence Framework and the Register of higher education providers. It is responsible both for administering the prevent duty and for ensuring that universities allow freedom of speech for controversial guest speakers.
The board is advised by a panel of students.
The appointment of Toby Young to the board, announced on 1 January 2018, generated controversy over his suitability for the post. As at 8 January 2018, over 200,000 people had signed an online petition protesting his appointment. In response to questioning the Prime Minister declared herself comfortable with his appointment, while the Universities minister defended him in the House of Commons. After criticism from leading Tory MPs, Young resigned on that day, claiming he had been turned into a caricature.
The OfS is a non-Departmental public body of the Department, established by the Act to fulfil a role as the main regulator of higher education in England.