Oversight is essential (1 of 2)

October 6, 2011

You report that hundreds of independent UK colleges recruiting mainly students from abroad "may go bust" as a result of the changes to the student visa system and the cost of educational oversight ("Bleak vision for student imports due to lack of 'oversight'", 29 September).

The UK Border Agency named the Quality Assurance Agency "the natural home" for educational oversight for higher education when it said that the student visa system had "failed to control immigration, failed to select the brightest and best and failed to protect legitimate students". No one, least of all students, is well served by such failures, which can only harm UK higher education in the long term.

The cost of educational oversight from QAA reflects the thoroughness of our approach, the calibre of our review teams and our commitment to this work being funded by the independent colleges themselves rather than being subsidised by public money.

We make no apology for applying the same level of integrity and scrutiny to independent providers as we do to publicly funded institutions. Our aim is to ensure a high-quality student experience and to protect the reputation of the UK higher education "brand".

Colleges themselves recognise the value of higher education in the tuition fees that they charge students. All students - domestic or international, at institutions public or private - have the right to an education where quality is assured to the highest standard.

Anthony McClaran, Chief executive, Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education

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