Private providers asked for urgent figures on widening participation

Private providers have been asked to help prepare the government for a key hearing on private higher education just days before it happens

December 12, 2014

An email from an official at London Higher, which represents a number of universities and colleges in the capital, to a small number of private providers mentioned an “urgent request” for information from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills “for information on widening access and alternative providers”.

“BIS have a Public Accounts Committee (PAC) hearing next week looking at alternative providers. They are seeking evidence that supports the contribution alternative providers are making to the widening access agenda,” the email says.

The email, sent yesterday, adds that “they would like any information you have, by tomorrow at 11.00 am (this is the absolute deadline for BIS)”.

MPs on the Public Accounts Committee are holding a hearing on 15 December, after a National Audit Office report examined concerns around public funding at private providers.

BIS is likely to come under pressure at the hearing to justify the explosion in funding at private providers, which have not been subject to student number controls until this year.

Martin Donnelly, permanent secretary at BIS, will be among those appearing before the PAC. BIS has already completed written submissions to the committee.

Among the information sought from private providers is “the composition of your student body and the extent that your students are drawn from widening access backgrounds, ie, from lower socio-economic groups, with disabilities, over 21, from care backgrounds or from BME [black and minority ethnic] backgrounds”, the email says.

The email concludes: “Any information you provide may be used by BIS in the public domain. This is a good opportunity to support the case for alternative providers in higher education and show the contribution they are making to the widening access agenda.”

In his previous appearance before the PAC a year ago, Mr Donnelly underwent a bruising experience. He was criticised as “deeply unprepared” by Margaret Hodge, the Labour MP and PAC chair.

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 6 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

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

United Nations peace keeper

Understanding the unwritten rules of graduate study is vital if you want to get the most from your PhD supervision, say Kevin O'Gorman and Robert MacIntosh

Eleanor Shakespeare illustration (5 January 2017)

Fixing problems in the academic job market by reducing the number of PhDs would homogenise the sector, argues Tom Cutterham

Houses of Parliament, Westminster, government

There really is no need for the Higher Education and Research Bill, says Anne Sheppard

poi, circus

Kate Riegle van West had to battle to bring her circus life and her academic life together

man with frozen beard, Lake Louise, Canada

Australia also makes gains in list of most attractive English-speaking nations as US slips