Version 1.0 - Last Updated: 16 Feb 2021

Creating a postgraduate doctoral course - Eligible higher education providers

Welsh students


Postgraduate doctoral funding will only be available from Student Finance Wales for courses that are automatically designated within the postgraduate doctoral regulations. They must also be provided by UK higher education providers that are either:

  • publicly funded with research degree awarding powers (R-DAPs)
  • registered with the Office for Students (OfS) with an Access and Participation Plan with R-DAPs

Only universities or colleges that have been granted R-DAPs can award doctoral degrees. Those with only taught degree awarding powers cannot award doctoral degrees.

The Welsh Ministers may specifically designate courses at publicly funded or OfS-registered providers that do not have R-DAPs and offer postgraduate doctoral courses. The Welsh Government and the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW) will tell us about any specifically designated courses.


Validation arrangements

If a publicly funded or OfS-registered provider with an Access and Participation Plan does not have R-DAPs (provider A), they may enter a validation arrangement with a publicly funded or OfS-registered provider that does have R-DAPs (provider B).

In such an arrangement, 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

Publicly funded or OfS-registered providers with an Access and Participation Plan that have RDAPs may enter into franchise arrangements with other publicly funded or OfS-registered providers that do not have RDAPs.

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

The Welsh Ministers may also specifically designate courses at alternative providers that offer postgraduate doctoral courses in Wales. The Welsh Government and HEFCW will tell us about any specifically designated courses at alternative providers based in Wales.

If an alternative provider has R-DAPs, the Welsh Ministers must designate and approve their courses to be eligible for support. These courses are not subject to automatic designation. Alternative providers with R-DAPs should not upload courses for Welsh domiciled students until they have been specifically designated by the Welsh Government and HEFCW.

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


Print this page
Back to top