Today’s education in the media looks at the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) report on alternative higher education.
PAC on alternative higher education
The PAC has today, Wednesday 7 March, issued a report on alternative providers in the higher education sector. The report said that the sector presents ‘too many opportunities to fraudsters’, allowing ineligible providers and students to claim student loan funding. The report urges the Government to crack down on those who are ‘playing the system’.
This story has been covered by the Press Association and the Independent.
Alterative providers play an important role in the higher education system – offering greater choice and opportunities for students. The report acknowledges that fewer students are dropping out of their courses, and that the department has strengthened its oversight of alternative providers. This includes additional checks and safeguards where recruitment practices and academic performance fall below acceptable standards.
Registered providers must comply with stringent registration conditions. If they breach these conditions, it is right that the Office for Student can intervene in a number of ways, for example by imposing sanctions or removing providers from the register.
A Department for Education spokesperson said:
Alternative providers make a strong contribution to the UK’s higher education system, offering greater choice, diversity and opportunities for students. As the PAC report has recognised, we have strengthened controls and have robust systems in place to identify and tackle fraud in alternative providers, but clearly there is more to do.
The Office for Students will bolster oversight of these institutions even further by putting students at the heart of everything they do and using its powers to hold these providers to account.