GuildHE broadly supports the OfS Reportable events consultation in our response. We do however raise a concern about a general shift of information, including specific reportable events, away from the Regulatory Framework towards Regulatory Guidance documents. If this becomes the norm for the OfS’s regulatory approach we need to ensure that there are sufficient checks and balances on how changes to Guidance can be made so there does not become regulatory creep without appropriate scrutiny.
It would therefore be helpful for the OfS to clarify how they will amend Guidance documents in the future. This could be a system of minor and major changes to Guidance documents, with the former not requiring full consultation but the latter requiring it. For example, where the OfS was updating Regulatory Guidance for either underpinning principles or issues that should ‘always be reported’ we would consider this a Major change to the Guidance and therefore require sector consultation. However, if it was just a case of adding in an additional example of a type of event that governing bodies should consider but that wouldn’t always be reportable that would usually just be considered a Minor amendment, and not always require sector consultation.
It would helpful for the OfS to develop a process to outline the situations in which it would update Regulatory Guidance and when it would be required to consult on these and when it wouldn’t.
We would also encourage the OfS to introduce a specific timeline by which they will respond to providers where the OfS has considered a reportable event and does not need additional information. It has previously sometimes felt like institutions were sending information into a black hole and not knowing what if anything was happening with the information.
Finally it will be important to consider how the list of reportable events relates to the proposal in the recently closed ‘quality and standards’ consultation. Changes to the degree classification algorithm, for example, hardly seems to fall into the same level of events as is listed in the new guidance.