2 December 2014 - Millions wasted on private colleges
Government support for private colleges wasted millions of pounds
Staff (The Guardian)
In September 2012, the government decided to introduce a new regime for higher education. While publicly funded universities and colleges were allowed to raise tuition fees to £9,000 per year for full-time undergraduate study, the government also introduced a change to the rules for so called ‘alternative providers’.
Suddenly students at private colleges offering higher education were allowed to borrow £6,000 per year from the government’s Student Loans Company to pay tuition fees.
These two changes made the provision of undergraduate level courses viable and attractive to private operations. Overnight a private college’s fees became competitive with mainstream universities – they could market themselves as the cheaper option for students looking for a higher education with lower levels of debt.
Staff (The Guardian)
Thousands of students enrolled with a new breed of private higher education colleges are not registered to take recognised exams, the government’s spending watchdog revealed on Tuesday, raising fears that huge numbers of undergraduates have been benefiting from taxpayer subsidy without undertaking meaningful study.
The National Audit Office also warned that the dropout rate among students at nine of the “alternative higher education providers” set up following reforms introduced by the former higher education minister David Willetts in 2012 was in excess of 20%. That is five times the dropout rate seen in traditional universities, with which the new colleges were designed to compete.
The NAO warns that the private institutions, which can charge students £6,000 a year in fees, have not been properly monitored and pointed out that students attending them were eligible for cheap loans and in some cases grants.
Sean Coughlan (BBC News)
The public spending watchdog has warned of a lack of funding controls for overseas students at private colleges, with £5m paid to ineligible students.
The National Audit Office investigated a surge in claims for loans and grants, many from Romanian students.
The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has already stopped recruitment at 23 colleges.
Margaret Hodge, who chairs the Public Accounts Committee, said such funding should not go for "private gain".
She said the drive to expand the number of private colleges in higher education was not accompanied by adequate checks to protect public funds.
Paul Jump (Times Higher Education)
The statistic was among several damning findings reported in the NAO’s report, published today, on its investigation into state support for students at private higher education colleges.
Margaret Hodge, the Labour MP who chairs the House of Commons public accounts committee, which will hold a hearing into the report, said the NAO investigation “has exposed the potential misuse of millions of pounds of public money”.
The NAO was asked in May to investigate concerns about possible abuse of the student loans system by for-profit providers, following a 33-fold increase in the amount of public money paid out to students at such colleges since the Coalition government came to power.
The NAO found that the average dropout rate for students at private providers accessing student support was 12 per cent in 2012-13. The average for students at institutions funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England was 4 per cent.
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"2 December 2014 - Millions wasted on private colleges", La Clé des Langues [en ligne], Lyon, ENS de LYON/DGESCO (ISSN 2107-7029), février 2014. Consulté le 28/09/2023. URL: https://cle.ens-lyon.fr/anglais/key-story/archives-revue-de-presse-2014/2-december-2014-millions-wasted-on-private-colleges