5 January 2017

CGHE research on private HE providers informs policy recommendations

The Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) has published a report examining the state of private higher education and implications for UK policymakers, drawing on research from CGHE’s 2016 report, ‘The entry and experience of private providers of higher education in six countries’.

HEPI’s report, entitled ‘Alternative providers of higher education: issues for policymakers’, argues that the growth in private higher education provision has raised concerns about cost and quality in the UK.

The report highlights ‘important lessons’ for UK policymakers from CGHE’s six-country survey of alternative providers. These include the need to ensure that students’ investment in higher education represents value for money; the need to regulate to ensure that providers do not abuse publicly provided funds; and the need to ensure that students’ access to financial support represents a good use of public money.

The report draws attention to CGHE’s research on the US experience of private providers, in particular the variety of trade-offs that need to be assessed carefully by government: for example, between regulation and quality assurance regimes on the one hand and the ability of private providers to respond swiftly and flexibly to changing demand on the other.

It also discusses CGHE’s research on the Australian experience. For example, it highlights the fact that, unlike in the US, for-profit institutions in Australia have contributed relatively little to widening higher education participation for disadvantaged and low-income groups when compared to public sector providers.

The authors warn that over 500 alternative providers will remain outside the new regulatory system proposed by the Higher Education and Research Bill in the UK.