The government currently has no plans to lay regulations under section 51(1) of the Higher Education and Research Act (HERA) 2017. The department believes the best approach to improving the operation of validation arrangements is a non-legislative approach in the first instance.
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education (Secretary of State) has asked the Office for Students (OfS) to undertake an assessment of the operation of the current validation system to identify any unnecessary barriers for providers seeking a validation partner, and to consider what steps it could take and how it could encourage removal or mitigation of such barriers.
Once section 50 of HERA is commenced next year, it will be open to the OfS to make use of its powers under that section to enter into commissioning arrangements with providers for the provision of validation agreements.
If, after taking advice from the OfS, the Secretary of State considers it necessary or expedient to do so (for example, if it is found that the system is not working well and the OfS’s existing powers are insufficient to improve it), it is open to the Secretary of State to bring forward legislation under section 51(1) of HERA to authorise the OfS to operate its own validation service for registered providers.