BPP University has shut a dentistry course after it failed to meet General Dental Council standards, leaving new students unable to start and existing undergraduates facing an uncertain future.
Events at BPP, which is owned by a for-profit private equity group, come as the government prepares to open the English sector further to new providers by allowing them to award degrees from the start of their operations on a probationary basis. Critics warn that if new providers subsequently fail, or do not gain full degree-awarding powers, it could mean more students being left unable to complete their courses.
The GDC, which has a statutory function to quality assure dental education and training, carried out an interim inspection of BPP’s bachelor’s degree in dental and oral sciences (hygiene and therapy) in July. The new course had begun operation in autumn 2016.
Ian Brack, chief executive and registrar of the GDC, said: “The initial findings of this inspection outlined that there were required actions and immediate conditions that needed to be taken to enable the course to continue safely – which were then shared with BPP University.
“We were then informed by BPP that they had taken the decision to close the course on 1 September, effective immediately.”
A BPP spokeswoman said that after the inspection, the GDC “subsequently informed BPP that the programme should cease until such time that the council was satisfied that certain modifications had been made”.
“Unfortunately, the GDC was unable to indicate how long that would take. Consequently, the university, reluctantly and regrettably, came to the conclusion that it had little choice but to close the programme,” the spokeswoman said.
BPP said that there were 21 students affected who had completed their first year of study, and 19 students who were due to start the programme in September 2017. “We are working closely with the affected students and have identified a number of opportunities at other universities with similar programmes,” the spokeswoman added.
Tim Stewart, BPP vice-chancellor, said that the institution’s “number one priority has been the welfare of the students affected and offering support and solutions for each and every one of them”.
BPP has undergone a period of change at senior level after the sale of its former owner, Apollo Education Group, to a US private equity consortium for $1.1 billion (£827 million) in March. Carl Lygo, BPP’s former vice-chancellor, left soon afterwards and Peter Crisp, former dean of BPP’s law school, has also left the institution.
The sale of BPP’s owner triggered a Department for Education review of its continued eligibility for degree-awarding powers and university title – routine when for-profit institutions change hands. BPP’s spokeswoman said that the DfE has now confirmed its continued eligibility.