Version 1.0 - Last Updated: 16 Feb 2021

Creating a postgraduate doctoral course - Eligible higher education providers

English students


Postgraduate doctoral funding will only be available from Student Finance England (SFE) for courses provided by UK higher education providers that are either

  • registered with the Office for Students (OfS) and have research degree awarding powers (R-DAPs)
  • are authority funded and have R-DAPs

Only providers with R-DAPs can award doctoral degrees. Those with only taught degree awarding powers cannot award doctoral degrees.


Validation arrangements

If an OfS-registered or authority funded provider does not have R-DAPs (organisation A), they may enter a validation arrangement with an OfS-registered or authority funded provider that does have R-DAPs (organisation B).

In this case, provider B approves a programme of study offered by provider A that contributes to the award of a doctoral qualification from provider B.

In validation arrangements, the degree-awarding body (provider B) is ultimately responsible for the academic standards of any awards granted in its name. It is also responsible for the quality of the learning programme.


Franchise arrangements

OfS-registered or authority funded providers with R-DAPs may enter into arrangements with third parties, that are not registered with OfS, to deliver a course on the behalf of the lead provider. 

The franchisee may deliver all or part of a programme approved and owned by the provider with R-DAPs. The franchising organisation (the provider with R-DAPs) keeps overall control of the programme's content, delivery, assessment and quality assurance.

If the course is provided by more than one university, the student must be registered with the university that is awarding the qualification.


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