Government launches review of English sector regulator

Health and social care expert to examine performance of Office for Students

December 15, 2023
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A government-commissioned review of England’s higher education regulator is to be led by a former chief executive of the Care Quality Commission.

The Department for Education published on 14 December the terms of reference for the review of the Office for Students, being conducted as part of the Public Bodies Review Programme, which will be led by Sir David Behan.

Sir David, a former director of social services in three local authorities, previously served as chief inspector of the Commission for Social Care Inspection, director of social care in the Department of Health, and, from 2012 to 2018, chief executive of the Care Quality Commission, England’s main health and social care regulator.

The review will consider a wide range of issues across the OfS’ efficacy, governance, accountability and efficiency.

It is expected to conclude by the end of May 2024, after which the review’s findings and recommendations will be published.

The review comes after a highly critical report on the OfS by the House of Lords Industry and Regulators Committee, which accused it of paying “insufficient attention to the financial risks facing the sector”, imposing “burdensome” data requirements, taking a “distant and combative” approach to relations with universities, and too often “translat[ing] ministerial and media attitudes directly into regulatory demands”.

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