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Financial sustainability of the higher education sector in England


Higher education providers can have a fundamental influence on the future lives of graduates, with consequences for the national economy. Providers are independent bodies, and the sector’s financial sustainability is heavily dependent on student fee income, top-up grant funding, and government research funding. Providers face a range of financial pressures, including challenges arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Office for Students, an arm’s-length body sponsored by the Department for Education, began operating in January 2018 and seeks to protect students’ interests. The Committee will question senior officials at  DfE and OfS on how effectively they are protecting students’ and taxpayers’ interests from risks to higher education providers’ financial sustainability, including:

  • whether DFE has set a clear purpose and scope for the oversight regime;
  • whether the DfE and OfS are effectively managing known, systemic, risks;
  • and whether DfE and OfS have responded appropriately to new financial risks, for example arising from COVID and EU exit.

If you have evidence on these issues please submit it here by Monday 14 March 2022 18:00.

This inquiry is no longer accepting evidence

The deadline for submissions was Monday 14 March 2022.

Contact us

  • Email:
  • Phone: 020 7219 5776 (general enquiries) | 020 7219 8480 (media enquiries)
  • Address: Public Accounts Committee, House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA