Higher education

Helping to shape the universities, colleges, and institutions for a modern society.

We guide higher education institutions through the most strategic and challenging issues they face.

Whether we’re instructed on the establishment of a new HEI, or on a merger or acquisition, you’ll be in safe hands throughout the transaction.

If you have operational issues such as student contracts, operational standards, or equality issues, we will make sure you’re making sound decisions and following the right processes throughout.

When you’re looking to commercialise IP through licensing or spin outs, or collaborating, partnering, or contracting with other organisations, we’ll bring our commercial expertise to ensure that you’re taking advantage of every opportunity.

If you’re in a dispute, we’ll help you to resolve it quickly and cost effectively. So you can get back on track with as little financial or reputational damage as possible.

Because we understand the real-world challenges facing higher education institutions.

How we help

We advise on governance and constitutional issues; drawing on our unrivalled charity law expertise, particularly in our work for Oxford and Cambridge universities and colleges, including donations, gifts and grants.

We advise on acquisitions and disposals of HEIs and e-learning and technology businesses, including all associated property, IP, and TUPE issues.

We have extensive experience advising on regulatory issues, engaging regularly with the Office for Students, the Department for Education, Ofqual and the Charity Commission (sometimes all at once). Examples of our work include advising on OfS registration and degree awarding power applications, establishing new awarding organisations, advising on investigations and regulatory action by regulators, challenging regulatory decisions, and advising on safeguarding and equalities issues.


We advise on contractual arrangements including shared use agreements, catering contracts, photocopying agreements, utilities contracts, consultancy agreements, data processing agreements, project contracts and facilities hire agreements.

We advise on the full spectrum of property matters from acquisition and sale of premises and accommodation, to planning issues, refinancing projects, disputes and facility sharing agreements.


“Bates Wells are specialists and understand the particular concerns of our sector.”

Education Higher & Further, Chambers 2024
Meet our team