Vince Cable: some private universities ‘a lot of dross’

The Telegraph is reporting comments by the Business Secretary that an expansion of private universities has introduced “a lot of dross” into the higher education system…

Coalition reforms that allow students to claim taxpayer-backed loans to study at private colleges has led to an expansion of “cheap and cheerful courses”, said Vince Cable.

He said the rise in the number of places at alternative providers – including profit-making institutions – had also allowed “some immigration abuse” to take place.

The comments, made at the Liberal Democrat conference in Glasgow, were seized upon by critics who warned that standards had been damaged by the expansion of higher education places.

According to figures, some £1 billion of state-backed funding will be awarded to students attending private universities and colleges this year following a significant growth in the number of institutions in recent years.

It follows a Coalition decision to allow students to claim government loans of up to £6,000 to take courses outside mainstream universities…

Speaking on Tuesday, Mr Cable said: “What we have done is opened the door to private sector alternative providers, including for-profit companies. Some of these have been very good, really outstanding, innovative institutions.

“But there’s a lot of dross and some of those operations are providing cheap and cheerful courses, recruiting students who then get maximum grant…

“We’ve had to crack down on them pretty hard because there was some immigration abuse taking place in them.”

The comments – reported by Times Higher Education magazine – were made at a fringe meeting co-hosted by the Social Market Foundation think-tank and the Sutton Trust charity…

Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union, said: “Vince Cable is the one who personally signs off the approval for these colleges.

“If he is worried about the dross he is letting in then perhaps he needs to hold off on the rubber stamping. The number of courses and for-profit providers has increased enormously under his direction.

“We have repeatedly called for private providers to be subject to the same regulation as our public universities but our calls have fallen on deaf ears.”…

More at: Vince Cable: some private universities ‘a lot of dross’

 

Interesting comments from Sally Hunt: it Vince Cable is so worried about some of the standards why is he approving them? Your thoughts on the situation? Please let us know in the comments or via Twitter…

 

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