Universities in the United Kingdom have generally been instituted by royal charter, papal bull, Act of Parliament, or an instrument of government under the Further and Higher Education Act 1992 or the Higher Education and Research Act 2017. Degree awarding powers and the ‘university’ title are protected by law,[1] although the precise arrangements for gaining these vary between the constituent countries of the United Kingdom.

Institutions that hold degree awarding powers are termed recognised bodies, this list includes all universities, university colleges and colleges of the University of London, some higher education colleges, and the Archbishop of Canterbury. Degree courses may also be provided at listed bodies, leading to degrees validated by a recognised body. Undergraduate applications to almost all UK universities are managed by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS).

While legally, ‘university’ refers to an institution that has been granted the right to use the title, in common usage it now normally includes colleges of the University of London, including in official documents such as the Dearing Repor