Failed for-profit’s students could ‘fall through cracks’, MP fears

HE institutions have offered more than 2,000 places to GSM students, but uncertainty remains over fate of others

September 25, 2019

Higher education institutions have made more than 2,000 offers of places to students from for-profit GSM London after it entered administration, but there are fears that other students may be “falling through the cracks”.

GSM, which was England’s biggest for-profit college in terms of students recruited with public Student Loans Company funding, will cease teaching at the end of this month, meaning that many of its 3,571 students must find alternative institutions.

The Office for Students said it continues to be “actively engaged in the situation” and that “in excess of 2,000 offers” have been made to these students by OfS-registered providers.

Students who were eligible for a student loan at GSM should be “similarly eligible at their new provider (assuming that they are OfS registered)”, said an OfS spokesman.

But Matthew Pennycook, Labour MP for Greenwich and Woolwich, told Times Higher Education that it is “not clear if some [students] are falling through the cracks”.

“GSM is unlikely to be the last private higher education provider to go bust in a system where market forces are the ultimate determinant of success,” added Mr Pennycook.

“But it is the institution’s students who risk paying the price of its publicly funded expansion and the regulatory experiment that facilitated it.

“Those students are predominantly mature, on low incomes and from minority communities – those most under-represented in higher education.

“As things stand, we simply have no idea how many have secured places at alternative providers, where they will be taught or whether they will have the financial support to finish their courses. We need to know.”

GSM said that around two-thirds of students needing to transfer have received offers from other institutions so far. And Coventry University’s CU London will occupy part of the GSM campus “so that some students will be able to continue their studies in Greenwich”, it also said.

GSM is working with about 15 higher education institutions to “finalise offers for those students who are yet to make a decision on where they want to transfer if they wish to continue their studies", a spokewoman said.

London South Bank University told THE that it has had 250 “firm accepts” from GSM students for entry on to its courses.

London Metropolitan University has offered places to a “number of students” from GSM, but with enrolment currently under way, said that it cannot yet confirm how many of those will turn into registered students.

The University of Greenwich said that offers have been made to 71 GSM students, while the University of Westminster said that fewer than 20 student have joined from GSM.

GSM, which is ultimately owned by private equity firm Sovereign Capital, awarded degrees validated by the University of Plymouth.

nick.mayo@timeshighereducation.com

POSTSCRIPT:

Print headline: Uncertain future for students of failed for-profit

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Reader's comments (1)

About 1500 students remain unplaced. Of those that have been placed, will all of their courses at GSM be accepted by the new institution or will transferring students only be able to to transfer some courses? Unless courses are freely accepted the cost of a degree will rise and the public cost as well. So the terms of the transfer of students are critical.

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