Government to ‘open higher education market’ to new providers

Changes to degree-awarding powers that will step up competition for universities heralded in Productivity Plan

July 10, 2015

The government plans to let new providers offer degrees independently of universities before they gain their own degree powers, as part of plans to “open the market” in higher education.

The government’s Productivity Plan, launched today by business secretary Sajid Javid and containing a section on higher education, also says that there will be a “faster” route to degree-awarding powers for new providers and that student number controls will be ended for the “best” private providers.

The moves would create extra competition for universities. The Conservatives have a long-standing aim to introduce new providers to drive down fees at universities.

The Productivity Plan, titled “Fixing the Foundations: Creating a More Prosperous Nation”, also says the government “will consult later this year on how a Teaching Excellence Framework can be developed, including outcome-focused criteria and metrics.

“The Teaching Excellence Framework will inform student decision-making, continue to support a high average wage premium for graduates and ensure that students’ hard-won qualifications keep their value over time,” it adds.

In a passage titled “Opening the market to new and alternative providers”, the plan says that “widening the range of high quality higher education providers can stimulate competition and innovation, increase choice for students, and deliver better value for money”.

It continues that “to enable the best new providers to compete on a level playing field with established universities, the government will introduce a clearer and faster route to degree awarding powers for those assessed to offer the best quality education”.

And the plan adds: “As part of the review of validation arrangements, the government will explore options to allow the best providers to offer degrees independently of existing institutions before they obtain degree awarding powers.”

Times Higher Education reported last month that the government is considering creating a new body to award vocational degrees for further education and private colleges, which would have echoes of the polytechnic awarding system.

The government will “free up student number controls for the best alternative providers by introducing a performance pool of places from 2016-17, which will allocate additional student places to the best providers”.

The government’s moves to encourage private provision in the last Parliament ran into trouble, with MPs on the Public Accounts Committee criticising the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills for failing to control a huge increase in public funding at private colleges. The expansion took place mainly via for-profit colleges increasing the number of publicly funded students on Higher National courses awarded by Pearson.

On postgraduate loan plans announced previously, the plan says the government “will set out details of how these loans will be delivered later this year”.

john.morgan@tesglobal.com

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 3 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
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Most Commented

Worried man wiping forehead
Two academics explain how to beat some of the typical anxieties associated with a doctoral degree
A group of flamingos and a Marabou stork

A right-wing philosopher in Texas tells John Gill how a minority of students can shut down debates and intimidate lecturers – and why he backs Trump

A face made of numbers looks over a university campus

From personalising tuition to performance management, the use of data is increasingly driving how institutions operate

students use laptops

Researchers say students who use computers score half a grade lower than those who write notes

As the country succeeds in attracting even more students from overseas, a mixture of demographics, ‘soft power’ concerns and local politics help explain its policy