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Calls to speed up investigation into private colleges' access to taxpayers' money

30 May 2014

UCU today backed calls from the shadow universities minister, Liam Byrne, to speed up an investigation into standards at private colleges who access millions of pounds of taxpayers' money.

Mr Byrne's call comes amid yet more damaging allegations of poor standards, minimal attendance at lectures and suggestions that private colleges are recruiting students simply to access large sums of public money.

UCU said the government had ignored repeated warnings from the union as far back as June 2010 about the lack of proper quality checks at private institutions. Private colleges are expected to receive around £1bn of public funds next year.

UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'We raised the issues of for-profit colleges' access to public funds and our concerns about standards time and again with ministers. We were ignored at every turn by a government that seemed so blinded by the ideology of competition that it refused to heed our warnings and the dire examples from America.

'We hope Liam Byrne's intervention will speed up an investigation which today's revelations show is urgent. Worryingly we have heard nothing from ministers or the colleges at the centre of the scandals and the public needs to know what exactly is going on.'

As part UCU's campaign against for-profit colleges in the UK, the union showed this film warning of the damage for-profit colleges had caused in America at a special screening for MPs in Parliament in November 2011.

Last updated: 10 December 2015