Private values and for-profit standards (3 of 3)

March 8, 2012

Carl Lygo, principal of BPP University College, makes a serious category error in equating for-profit universities (under investigation in the US but promoted by the UK government as a solution to a nebulous "problem" with the academy) with private (ie, not state-run) not-for-profits ("Room for a profitable view", 16 February).

Mentioning the likes of Harvard and Stanford universities, which are private not-for-profit universities, as support for profit-seeking as a legitimate motive in providing higher education is a non sequitur. BPP is in a parlous state if the best argument it can muster for its approach is a false parallel between not being run by the state and being run for the benefit of shareholders.

As a professor at a private not-for-profit in Japan, I can confirm that the attitudes here are far closer to those of state institutions (in Japan and the UK) than to those of the for-profits.

If anything, the success of institutions such as Harvard is a strong argument for less state control of existing not-for-profits in the UK rather than the introduction of extra competition from for-profit institutions.

Andrew A. Adams, Deputy director, Centre for Business Information Ethics, Meiji University, Tokyo

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