University of Gloucestershire invites in for‑profit firm

University mulls joint venture with INTO to boost business school

February 6, 2014

Source: Neil Turner

Scrutiny: v-c Stephen Marston will report back to Gloucestershire’s council

The University of Gloucestershire is considering running its business school as a joint venture with a for‑profit firm, in what could be a first for a UK university department teaching home students.

The firm thought to be in the frame for the joint venture is INTO, which runs pathway centres for overseas students at several universities including Gloucestershire.

Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union, said the UCU believed that such a move could be the first time that “a university department teaching primarily UK students” faced having a for-profit firm take a substantial stake in its ownership. It comes as news also emerges that the University of York may be looking to create a pathway centre for foreign students in a joint venture with INTO.

The developments may signal that INTO is increasing activity after selling a 25 per cent share last year to New York-based Leeds Equity Partners, which holds a stake in Education Management Corporation, the second-largest US for-profit higher education firm.

Last summer, Gloucestershire’s council approved a plan to place a tender for the business school venture. The university would not comment on the size of the investment sought but it is thought that the money will fund a new building for the school.

In December, the university announced that the business school would be at the heart of a “Growth Hub” for the regional economy to be created by the university and the local enterprise partnership GFirst LEP, with £2.7 million from the Higher Education Funding Council for England’s Catalyst Fund.

The university, which has a historic debt of £19 million, argues that it must raise external investment if the business school is to drive regional growth. Stephen Marston, Gloucestershire’s vice-chancellor and a former director general for higher education funding and reform at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, will report back to the university’s council for a final decision. Hefce has told the university that it must maintain at least a 51 per cent stake in the joint venture, one source said.

A Gloucestershire spokesman said: “The joint venture…we are considering is very much a partnership, but the quality and standards of the academic teaching and the university’s awards will always remain a core responsibility of the university.”

Some staff are worried about what a joint venture with a private provider might mean for pay, pensions and conditions. Ms Hunt said that Gloucestershire was “ignoring the lessons” of for-profit higher education scandals in the US and “putting its reputation on the line, not to mention significant equity”.

Times Higher Education free 30-day trial

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

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Forrest Post Doctoral Research Fellow

University Of Western Australia

Research Fellow in Statistical Epidemiology

London School Of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (lshtm)

Phone Advisor

Gsm London
See all jobs

Most Commented

Felipe Fernández-Armesto takes issue with a claim that the EU has been playing the sovereignty card in Brexit negotiations

Female professor

New data show proportion of professors who are women has declined at some institutions

opinion illustration

Eliminating cheating services, even if it were possible, would do nothing to address students’ and universities’ lack of interest in learning, says Stuart Macdonald

John McEnroe arguing with umpire. Tennis

Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O’Gorman explain how to negotiate your annual performance and development review

Man throwing axes

UCU attacks plans to cut 171 posts, but university denies Brexit 'the reason'