Office for Students: Registration

Department for Education written question – answered on 7th October 2019.

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Photo of Lord Hunt of Kings Heath Lord Hunt of Kings Heath Labour

To ask Her Majesty's Government how long, on average, it takes for an application by an institution for registration with the Office for Students to be processed; and what has been (1) the longest, and (2) the shortest, time taken for such an application, broken down by institution type.

Photo of Baroness Berridge Baroness Berridge Baroness in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)

There is no meaningful average time for higher education establishments receiving an outcome on their Office for Students (OfS) registration application. This is because the time taken from initial receipt of the application to a final registration decision is dependent on a number of factors.

These factors include the completeness of the application initially submitted, the scale of the clarificatory information requested by the assessor during the assessment process and the length of time taken by the provider to respond to such information requests. In addition, other factors include the time taken for the provider’s access and participation plan to be negotiated and approved and the likelihood of the provider to breach its ongoing conditions of registration, including the ways in which that would impact its students. Furthermore, consideration is also given to the overall readiness of the provider to be regulated.

Cases where decisions that have been reached more quickly often relate to circumstances where the provider has submitted a near-complete application or where queries during the assessment have been minimal. More timely decisions can be made where the risk assessment suggests that the provider is unlikely to breach any of its ongoing conditions of registration.

Cases that have taken longer to assess have typically involved several attempts to obtain relevant information from the provider.

The risk assessment may also suggest either that the provider does not satisfy one or more initial conditions of registration (in which case the provider may make representations against the proposed decision to refuse registration), or that the provider may be at increased risk of breaching one or more of its ongoing conditions of registration, once registered.

In these cases, the OfS is likely to conclude that the interests of students are best protected by taking regulatory action with which the provider must comply, such as applying specific conditions of registration or enhanced monitoring arrangements. Such occurrences would lengthen the timeframe for a decision on an application.

The OfS will be publishing an analysis of the key themes that arose during the initial registration process in the autumn.

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