Students at for-profit St Patrick’s College, which once had access to public loans suspended and was later warned by the government over concerns about its finances, claimed almost £100 million in taxpayer-backed funding last year.
Grants, maintenance loans and fee loans for St Patrick’s students in 2013-14 rose to £95.7 million, according to figures published last week by the Student Loans Company. That was more than double the 2012-13 total of £41.5 million disclosed this time last year.
The rise came despite St Patrick’s having its designation for SLC funding suspended by the government in November 2013, alongside another 22 of the fastest-growing private colleges, which prevented it from recruiting any more SLC-funded students in the 2013-14 academic year.
Times Higher Education previously reported that it understands that the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills contacted St Patrick’s in August 2014 to say that it had failed to meet the financial sustainability standards needed for the designation that would allow its students to access SLC funding in 2014-15. But the government later gave the green light and awarded designation, saying that the worries had been addressed by the college.
THE has also revealed that St Patrick’s is owned by a holding company registered in the Netherlands.
With 6,668 students claiming £25.3 million in fee loans, which are paid to the college, St Patrick’s was the biggest private provider in England in terms of the number of students claiming SLC fee funding in 2013-14.
The college’s undergraduate offer consists of sub-degree Higher National qualifications for fees of £6,000.
Across all private providers, 45,000 students received fee loans from the SLC in 2013-14.
SLC funding in grants, maintenance loans and fee loans totalled £597.8 million for students at private providers. That was a rise from only £30 million in 2010, before the coalition government started its policy to expand private provision, led by David Willetts, the former universities and science minister.
Students at GSM London, owned by private equity firm Sovereign Capital, received £77 million, putting it second highest on the list of SLC funding at private providers.
London School of Business and Finance, which is linked to St Patrick’s, was third highest. Students at LSBF, which also saw its designation suspended in November 2013, later regaining it for 2014-15, claimed £56 million in SLC funding in 2013-14. St Patrick’s is a subsidiary of Global University Systems; LSBF describes itself as an affiliate of GUS.