Decision imminent on BPP university title

Hefce refuses to comment on US parent’s struggles

July 11, 2013

The government is set to decide whether to make BPP a university, creating the UK’s second for-profit institution with the title, just as its US parent company faces “adverse impact” from a sanction against one of its other institutions.

The Higher Education Funding Council for England board considered BPP’s title application on 4 July. Hefce – which has to consider if an institution’s corporate and financial governance makes it fit for university status – will shortly send its recommendation to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

BIS, which decides whether private institutions should receive the title, is expected to reach a decision this month.

BPP University College submitted the application in January. It said the delay was owing to problems in establishing the title process for non-charitable applicants.

Meanwhile, BPP’s parent, Apollo Group, has been facing problems on the other side of the Atlantic. The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, a US accrediting body, recommended in January that the Apollo-owned University of Phoenix be put on probation because of concerns about the institution’s “insufficient autonomy” from Apollo.

On 10 July Apollo announced that Phoenix had successfully appealed against that judgement and has now had its accreditation reaffirmed for a 10-year period.

However, Phoenix has been “put on notice” for two years by the HLC. In 2014, Phoenix must show it has “ameliorated the issues that led to the notice sanction in the areas of governance, student assessment and faculty scholarship/research for doctoral programs”, Apollo says in its corporate filing on the matter.

Apollo adds that Phoenix will also be required to report on other areas of concern “including retention and graduation rates, three–year cohort default rates, and credit hour policies and practices relating to learning teams”.

Apollo also warns: “We believe the imposition of the sanction of notice on University of Phoenix could adversely impact our business.”

Hefce has refused to comment on whether it took Apollo’s travails into account in its recommendation on university title for BPP.

The creation of the UK’s first for-profit university, the University of Law, was rushed through in November 2012 to meet a deadline in its sale to Montagu Private Equity, THE revealed earlier this year.

john.morgan@tsleducation.com

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