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Report calls for reforms to higher education regulation

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A report published today by Universities UK has called for changes to be made to the way higher education in England is regulated.

The report argues that, due to student funding and other changes to higher education in recent years, the current system of regulation is becoming outdated and reform is needed in order to protect our international reputation for quality.

The report was written by a regulation task group chaired by Professor Simon Gaskell, President and Principal of Queen Mary University of London.

Key recommendations from the report include:

  • A new approach for protecting the student interest in the rare event of institutional or course closure
  • The establishment of a register of approved higher education providers, giving the current higher education register greater regulatory status
  • The establishment of a new Council for Higher Education for England, evolved from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), which would lead and coordinate mechanisms to provide assurance of quality, equity and sustainability in higher education (in addition to its funding role)
  • The indication that necessary changes should be made to primary legislation in order to implement the proposals in this report

Professor Simon Gaskell, President and Principal of Queen Mary University of London and chair of the task group, said: “Our university sector has a well-deserved international reputation for high quality teaching and good governance.

“We start from a position of strength and are not looking to fix a broken system. However, it should be recognised that over recent years, there have been a number of significant changes to the funding of higher education and to the number of providers offering courses. Regulation of the sector needs to keep pace with these developments if confidence, and our international reputation, are to be maintained.

“The report makes a number of significant recommendations in relation to who should coordinate sector regulation, how providers should be registered and how students’ interests should be protected. As the recommendations will require changes to primary legislation, we look forward to discussing these with all political parties before and beyond the general election.”

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