Back in June and July 2022, 32 interviews were conducted by an independent research agency on behalf of the Office for Students with accountable officers (AOs) – university staff whose job it is to liaise with OfS – and their representatives. And according to the report the takeaways were pretty negative. OfS chief executive Susan Lapworth is now seeking to “refresh” the regulator’s engagement with providers.
On the one hand, OfS never set out to make friends. From its inception it has been clear that it wants to avoid “sector capture” and remain independent of those it regulates. But based on this feedback, it may have gone too far the other way and need to correct course.
The report helpfully sets out both the positives and the negatives – though some of the positives don’t feel like full-blooded endorsements.