Private Higher Education Providers: Financial Sustainability

Oral Answers to Questions — Education – in the House of Commons on 9th September 2019.

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Photo of Matthew Pennycook Matthew Pennycook Shadow Minister (Exiting the European Union)

What recent assessment he has made of the financial sustainability of private higher education providers.

Photo of Gavin Williamson Gavin Williamson The Secretary of State for Education

To be registered under the new regulatory framework, all higher education providers must demonstrate that they are financially viable, sustainable and well-managed organisations that deliver high quality education. The Office for Students has currently registered more than 380 providers, which means that it has assessed those providers to be financially sustainable looking forward over a five-year period.

Photo of Matthew Pennycook Matthew Pennycook Shadow Minister (Exiting the European Union)

I thank the Secretary of State for his answer. Greenwich School of Management is unlikely to be the last private higher education provider to go bust in a system where market forces are the ultimate determinant of success, but it is of course the students and staff who pay the price. Can he tell me how many of the 3,500 GSM students—who are overwhelmingly mature, on low incomes and from minority groups—have been found a place at a new institution to date and have the financial support to finish their courses?

Photo of Gavin Williamson Gavin Williamson The Secretary of State for Education

I thank the hon. Gentleman for raising this important question. We have been working closely with GSM and the administrators to ensure that as many students as possible are transferred on to new courses if they are mid-course. At the moment, I do not have the data to answer his question, because how many accept this will come down to student choice, but as soon as we have the data I will of course write to him. The key focus has been to ensure that all those students get a place with an alternative provider.