TIMES HIGHER EDUCATION: Private providers create ‘Russell Group of the alternative sector’

Career College Central Summary:

  • A group representing non-profit and for-profit private providers aims to be “the Russell Group of the alternative sector” and to dissociate its members from “dodgy” for-profit colleges.
  • The Independent Universities Group, representing eight institutions with degree-awarding powers and/or university title that are not funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England, was scheduled to be formally established at a meeting on 6 January.
  • Some suggest that membership of the IUG or attainment of the entry requirement of degree-awarding powers could in future become key regulatory thresholds for private providers to demonstrate quality – particularly if a Labour government is returned after the 2015 election and introduces tougher regulation on private providers.
  • The IUG was set to be made up of five non-profit institutions and three for-profit or for-profit-owned institutions: Ashridge Business School; BPP University (whose parent company is US higher education firm Apollo Group); the University of Buckingham; the College of Estate Management; the University of Law (owned by Montagu Private Equity); Regent’s University London; RDI (a subsidiary of US firm Capella Education Company); and Richmond, the American International University in London.
  • The only private institution with degree-awarding powers that has opted not to join the group is ifs School of Finance. Richmond does not have UK degree-awarding powers, but has US accreditation.
  • Aldwyn Cooper, Regent’s vice-chancellor, said: “In a sense we do see ourselves as a sort of Russell Group of the alternative sector. Because we want there to be a recognition that there is a distinct difference between different elements of the alternative sector, which is still confusing to the general public and to MPs, frankly.”

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