Member services

We provide support and advice to colleges through our member services.  These include:

  • Advice and information on all aspects of policy, good practice and student issues in relation to any higher education matters in colleges.
  • A fortnightly briefing, containing the latest news and analysis on related issues.
  • We run the College Higher Education Portfolio Group, which brings together principals and vice principals from colleges.  They aim of the group is to represent the interests of colleges with HE provision and inform AoC policy, services and lobbying activity.
  • Servicing regional college HE meetings across the country.  The aim of these groups is to achieve a co-ordinated approach to the strategic development of high quality college HE in the region; providing a collective voice for members in their relationships with strategic and funding bodies, employers and students. At these meetings, we also gather feedback from member colleges about the impact of initiatives on their colleges and students.

Additional Services

AoC Create offers additional products and services to help your college succeed in today’s challenging environment.  These include:

Overview of college HE information


We advise our members on the regulation of HE in England and also consult with our sister HE organisations, Universities UK and Guild HE on regulation and related issues. 

Many HE commentators believe that in the next Parliament, the Government will need to pass legislation to establish a new HE regulatory framework to meet the demands of a more market-orientated system. If you are experiencing regulatory issues or are interested in how HE in England is regulated, please contact Arti Saraswat.


The external quality assurance of HE in England is sub-contracted to the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA). AoC has a representative on the QAA Board agreed with the UK Council of Colleges.

We regularly consults with QAA on all issues related to the quality assurance of HE and frequently organises joint seminars and/or conferences on topics of mutual interest. AoC can also provide an advice service if colleges are experiencing problems in this area of their work.


Colleges receive their HE funding through three main sources: HEFCE grants, Student Loan Company (SLC) tuition fees and from employers or individuals. A large number of colleges also receive funds through franchise agreements with universities.  From 2015 there is no numbers cap on recruitment and colleges are able to recruit openly. Arti Saraswat works closely with Julian Gravatt, AoC’s Assistant Chief Executive, on HE funding issues.

Public information

As part of a college’s agreement with HEFCE, it is required to take part in surveys and provide information that is publicly available. The QAA checks that a college meets these requirements. The major public information requirements are: 

  • ensuring that students complete the National Student Survey held in the last year of a course 
  • completing the Destination of Leavers from Higher Education survey six months after a student has left their course

Student recruitment

The vast majority of students who apply and enrol on English HE courses apply through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). Applicants can also apply directly to institutions and around 50% of college applicants apply in this way. Around 180 colleges use UCAS services. 

AoC has a representative on the UCAS Board and its wider advisory council. There is also a College Advisory Group organised by UCAS. Most colleges provide a local HE service and 70% of college students live within 25 miles of their college campus. Some 50% of college HE students only apply to study for one course at one college.

Access and Widening Participation

Colleges enrol a significant proportion of students from less well-off backgrounds - around 12% more than universities, although this figure is much higher in some colleges.  A reason for this is due to colleges offering bespoke part-time higher education courses, often to meet the needs of local or regional employers.  To meet HEFCE's commitment to increase access and widen participation to HE, colleges are required to complete a widening participation strategic statement indicating how they intend to attract students from less well-off backgrounds.  If the college charges more than £6,000 per student in tuition fees, it also needs to complete an Access Agreement monitored by the Office for Fair Access (OFFA).