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England's University Regulation Inadequate!

Online Desk | October 12, 2013
England's University Regulation

England's University Regulation

A lack of regulation of England's universities means students are at risk of attending failing institutions, the Higher Education Commission (HEC) says.

The HEC says current checks are not adequate for a sector that has a new funding system in the wake of higher tuition fees introduced last year.

It says the situation could threaten the UK’s higher education reputation.

The government says a "robust but proportionate" regulatory system is needed.

The HEC - an independent body made up of leaders from the education sector, business and the three main political parties - conducted its research over an eight-month period and concludes that current regulation is too "piecemeal".

The commission says that the Higher Education Funding Council for England (Hefce), which distributes the teaching grant to universities, was previously able to attach regulatory conditions to the grant.

But now that the teaching grant has been reduced and is being replaced with increased student tuition fees since 2012, the ability to regulate universities through Hefce has been reduced in turn.

Its report - Regulating Higher Education - says all degree providers in England should be "captured" by proper regulation.

It says: "It [higher education] is a valuable part of our national infrastructure and we must therefore ensure that students investing thousands of pounds in their futures are receiving top quality provision, and that the institutions they are attending are financially viable."

The HEC study expresses particular concern about newly established higher education providers, saying "more providers are entering the market… and online providers gaining traction".

"Regulation as it sits is not adequately prepared for the diversity of these current and future developments."

"New market entrants are not facing the scrutiny they should, takeovers and complex corporate structures are being used to evade fundamental protections for students, and institutions are facing more pressure than ever to recruit students and crucially, therefore, bring in funding."

The report continues: "In this new, reformed higher education landscape, the chances of an institution failing are increased. An institution failing would damage both students and the highly-valued brand of UK higher education."

The HEC calls on the government for urgent legislation to tackle the problems.

It suggests an overarching regulatory body - the Council for Higher Education (CHE) - should be created, incorporating the current body Hefce, the Office for Fair Access (Offa), the Student Loans Company and a new body called the Office for Competition and Institutional Diversity.

The commission also calls for better information about the various degree providers now operating in the UK and says all of these should be subject to a new regulatory framework, with kitemarks for those meeting approved standards.

It also proposes an insurance scheme, paid into by every institution, to safeguard students should an institution or course fail. শিক্ষা সংক্রান্ত খবরাখবর নিয়মিত পেতে রেজিস্ট্রেশন করুন অথবা Log In করুন।

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