UCU warned the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government that encouraging the growth of private universities would damage the UK’s international reputation and invite serious questions about standards. BPP, the subsidiary of Apollo which has degree awarding powers, has been lobbying the government heavily to relax the regulations on who can call themselves a university.
As the Times Higher reported on 24 June, the government has faced ”intense lobbying by BPP, and other private providers, to bring in changes that would help them compete on a “level playing field” with publicly funded institutions. Suggestions include allowing the private sector better access to the student loans system, making it easier for them to call themselves universities, and wider distribution of degree-awarding powers.”
BPP has secured the government’s agreement that it will be allowed to call itself a ‘university college’ – an ambiguous title that does not require it to fulfil the current requirements of ‘university title’.
The union ran a poll of 500 professors which showed that an overwhelming majority (96%) did not believe it should be easier for private companies to call themselves universities.
UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: “Encouraging the growth of private providers and making it easier for them to call themselves universities would be a disaster for the UK’s academic reputation. It would also represent a huge threat to academic freedom and standards.”
In September UCU produced a report outlining its concerns over the expansion of private providers in UK higher education. A copy of Privatising our Universities can be found at http://tinyurl.com/2uad6g5
http://tinyurl.com/34qa6lc – press release
http://tinyurl.com/27ujcqz – Telegraph