GuildHE asks Browne for new funding regulator

Representative body calls for higher fees and integration of private colleges into “higher education ecology”. John Gill reports

May 19, 2010

A new “charitable regulator” should be set up with powers to decide which higher education institutions, including private providers, can apply for public funding. The case for the new body is made by GuildHE in a submission to the review of fees and funding being led by Lord Browne of Madingley.

GuildHE, a representative body with a membership of 31 UK higher education institutions, recommends that the new regulator take on some of the functions of the Higher Education Funding Council for England and the Office for Fair Access. It also says that private colleges should be “integrated into the higher education ecology”.

The GuildHE submission recommends that students be charged higher fees, which should be “proportionate to the cost of the course they are taking and set in simple banding arrangements”, with a maximum fee level set by the new regulatory body.

It says that a scheme providing national bursaries should be set up, and loans should be made accessible to part-time students and postgraduates.

The GuildHE submission also argues that student places should be “more freely available at the discretion of the higher education provider”, and suggests that institutions should be permitted to take on additional home students and charge them the full costs of their courses.

In a warning to the sector, GuildHE adds that it is “critical that the high quality threshold [of UK higher education] is reinforced by any funding and student finance system”.

“There is a real possibility that wrong use of market forces to drive quality, instead of good regulation and enhancement, will put that global reputation at risk,” it says.

“At the same time, GuildHE argues that the active market exists now, and can be developed further to extend student choice and opportunity.”

• For full coverage of the second set of submissions to Lord Browne’s review of fees and funding, see Times Higher Education on 20 May.

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