Our external representation

IHE acts as the collective voice of independent providers of higher education, professional training and pathways. We represent the interests of our members externally in regular bilateral meetings with key stakeholders as well as on boards, standing committees, advisory groups and other forums.

Representing our members

Numbering over 70 institutions IHE has the most diverse membership of any higher education representative body, and we are the only organisation dedicated to supporting higher education’s SMEs and the new providers who help drive innovation and expand the choices available to students in the UK.

Our unique mission and perspective secure our seat at the table whenever government or its regulatory bodies consider the issues which matter to higher education institutions and their students. We represent the interests of SMEs, new entrants and specialist providers, reflecting their experiences, and advising officials on the impact that current and potential policies and regulations could have on this fastest-growing and most innovative part of the higher education sector.

Our professional staff team meet regularly with all of the key stakeholders for the higher education sector. We also appoint and nominate individual member representatives onto project board and sector groups where a provider perspective is most appropriate.

Our key stakeholder relationships

Office for Students

The Office for Students (OfS) is the statutory regulator for higher education in England, and probably has the most impact day-to-day on the operations and governance of our members. As such our relationship with the OfS is one of our most important, and we are in almost daily communication with staff at all levels in the organisation, whether this is helping to shape their thinking in new policy areas, contributing to consultations on proposed changes, connecting them with individual providers with particular problems, or simply making sure that our members understand decisions taken by the OfS and their expectations in a continually evolving regulatory framework.

Department for Education

The Department for Education (DfE) is responsible for higher education, skills and schools policy in England, and constitutes our most important partner in Government. We meet most weeks with DfE officials from across the multiple directorates which interact with the higher education sector, helping to drive forward an agenda for reform in regulation, funding, qualifications, access, innovation, investment and internationalisation.

Department for Business and Trade

We work closely with officials in the Department for Business and Trade (DBT) sector teams and programme groups to help promote our members and UK education internationally as well as to identify and address any market barriers. Our Chief Executive is a member of the Government’s Education Sector Advisory Group, which is co-chaired by DBT and DfE Ministers and which supports the implementation and further development of the UK’s International Education Strategy.

Home Office

The Home Office and its executive agency UK Visas and Immigration are responsible for UK migration policy and core operational functions in support of international students, including visa processing and the sponsorship management system. We work closely with Home Office staff across policy and operational teams, both in the UK and around the world, and we represent the interests of independent providers in regular Education Advisory Group meetings and other key policy development and delivery forums.

Jisc and HESA

Most IHE members are subscribers of and submit data regularly to HESA, which is now an integral part of Jisc, the shared service provider of choice for technology in the HE and FE sectors. As well as meeting regularly with Jisc’s CEO and other key staff, we nominate a representative (currently David Howell, IHE Board Member and CEO of Met Film School) to serve on Jisc’s Data Oversight Board, which oversees its statutory activities as the Designated Data Body in England, as well as to other committees and working groups focused on particular work streams.


We have a longstanding and productive relationship with QAA, the UK’s independent expert quality body for higher education. We work closely with them and advise the leadership of QAA as a member of its Consultative Board and in regular bilateral meetings with the CEO and other key staff. The interests of independent providers are represented on the QAA Board by Phil Deans, IHE Board Member and President and Vice Chancellor of Richmond American University London.

University teacher talking to her Asian female student at campus.

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