The college owned by FTSE 100 education company Pearson has passed its first review by the UK’s quality watchdog, meaning that the institution’s domestic students are eligible for public funding.
Pearson College, based on the Strand in central London, is only the second institution to go through the Quality Assurance Agency’s new method of review for private providers, called Higher Education Review (Plus).
The college could now apply to the Home Office for permission to recruit overseas students, for which QAA review is required.
In addition, the successful review is important for domestic funding. Under new arrangements from the government, private providers must go through QAA review to gain designation for their courses, making students eligible for Student Loans Company funding. Pearson confirmed that it had successfully applied for designation on all its business courses for 2014-15.
Pearson’s securing of QAA review could be the first stage in a bid to compete with English universities. The company has already said that “as a teaching body, we have a clear route to [degree-awarding] powers, and we will be working towards that in future”. The QAA’s report, conducted in May 2014, says that Pearson College has 99 students, divided between two streams: a Pearson higher national diploma in business, upgraded via a top-up year to a full bachelor’s degree in business and enterprise validated by Royal Holloway, University of London; and direct entry to the top-up course.
The QAA praised the college’s “holistic” approach to employability and identified the role of “degree concept teams” in developing new programmes as an area of good practice. It made three recommendations for improvements, including the suggestion that Pearson should “embed within its quality assurance procedures a structured opportunity for dialogue between staff and students”.
The college met UK expectations on all four criteria, including maintenance of threshold academic standards and quality of student learning opportunities.
Pearson College will start a new programme in September: a range of new business management degrees validated by Ashridge Business School.