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UCU response to privatisation plans for higher education sector

10 March 2016

UCU has warned that government plans to increase the role of 'for-profit private providers' in delivering English higher education risks damaging the status and international reputation of our universities.

Responding to a report in the Financial Times that the proposed higher education bill in this year's Queens Speech will make access to public funds easier for private providers, the union said that taxpayers and students had already been ripped off for hundreds of millions of pounds by the previous expansion under the coalition government.
Citing the rapid growth of for-profit companies in the US and the resulting poor attendance, high debts and low standards, the union is calling for assurances that, as in Wales, no public money will be used to fund the expansion of the English for-profit education sector.
UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'The government seems to have learned very little from its last attempt to encourage for-profit higher education as a result of which many thousands of students in for-profit institutions were ripped off and the taxpayer was left with a huge bill.
'The multiplying scandals in the USA over for profit colleges show that this experiment will be a disaster both for students and for the reputation of English higher education abroad.  It would be a scandal if, after all the warnings the government has received on this issue, taxpayers' money currently being used to support public universities was switched to the for-profit sector.'

Last updated: 10 March 2016