Private positives

August 4, 2016

I would argue that the disappointing letter “Private ventures ripe for failure” (28 July) is backwards-looking and self-protectionist. It is an unreasoned attack on the alternative provider sector in which many different kinds of institutions deliver first-class higher education and excellent value for money.

The authors do not address improvements in the student experience or the long-term future of higher education in a changing world. Instead, their argument aims to restrict innovative and student-focused learning. At present, the UK institutions most likely to fail are both underperforming and state-funded. Perhaps we should all pay closer attention to the lessons of history.

As Jo Johnson, the minister for universities and science, has pointed out, University College London and King’s College London were once dismissed as “upstart commoners” but are today recognised as being among the top 30 in the world. Similarly, many redbrick universities that were once disparaged are now in the top 200 globally.

The main purpose of the Higher Education and Research Bill is not simply to expand the role of alternative providers. It has been widely accepted for many years that new legislation is needed for the equitable and effective management of higher education. Of course we must maintain quality, but this can be achieved through further improvement of Quality Assurance Agency processes.

The best defence of our world-class university system is not to fight tooth and nail against change. Instead, we should be working jointly to ensure the expansion of quality education for all students while bringing positive and new ideas to the debate, no matter from what source.

Aldwyn Cooper
Regent’s University London

Send to

Letters should be sent to:
Letters for publication in Times Higher Education should arrive by 9am Monday.
View terms and conditions.

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 6 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments

Related universities

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

Home secretary says government will support 'best' universities

Man handing microphone to audience member

Academic attainment of disadvantaged students can be improved if they can decide how they are assessed, study claims

Woman drinking tea from saucer

Plugging a multibillion-pound deficit exacerbated by June’s poll result may require ‘drastic measures’, analysts have warned

Italy's gold medallist

New measures to ensure universities are ‘not penalised’ for taking poorer students also outlined for next stage of TEF

Classroom, school

Higher education institutions can and should do more to influence education at a secondary school level, says Edward Peck