Soft-touch regulation

March 21, 2013

Your news article, “UK union fans flames as Phoenix feels heat of probation threat” (14 March), reports the difficulties that Apollo Group, owner of BPP University College, is experiencing with US accreditors over the governance of the University of Phoenix, the largest US for-profit university.

We reiterate the call we made in these pages last year: that all new owners of UK-based providers should be subject to the same approvals process as the entity that is being acquired when it obtained degree- awarding powers and university title (“When owners change, keep check on powers”, Letters, 28 April 2012). This would have applied to Apollo’s acquisition of BPP in summer 2009, as well as the purchase of the College of Law (now the University of Law) by Montagu Private Equity in April 2012.

David Willetts, the universities and science minister, has stated that our regulatory regime is tougher than the US equivalent. The action by the Higher Learning Commission is clear evidence that this is not the case.

Roger Brown
Professor of higher education policy
Liverpool Hope University

Geoffrey Alderman
Michael Gross professor of modern history
University of Buckingham

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