There is an interesting article on the BBC website today about the growth and regulation of private universities.
The main thrust of the article deals with regulation, scrutiny and ensuring students have enough information to make a decision on which university to apply for.
Given the rising cost of higher education and the effect of a degree on someone’s future career, regulation is vital.
The government is preparing a white paper and is concerned that all universities, state and private, should be subject to the same regulation.
To quote the BBC: ‘A spokeswoman from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said: “The future regulatory regime for all providers of higher education is a key issue in the forthcoming White Paper, which will lead to a Higher Education Bill in 2012.
“The government wants to encourage a diverse and dynamic higher education sector with a range of providers offering high quality and innovative teaching, wider choice and good value for students.’
One thing that seems to me important is that private universities should advertise themselves better. Most collections of brochures in libraries and elsewhere concentrate on the state sector, and I suspect many people are unaware that there are already a fair number of private higher education colleges. At present only five of these have their own degree-awarding powers, but this number is set to rise.
Increased choice in higher education will probably be a good thing, but only if they all reach acceptable standards.
The current Higher Education Bill (2004) can be viewed here.