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UCU comment on new data on alternative providers of higher education

8 February 2017 | last updated: 13 February 2017

UCU said today that the lack of data around alternative providers of higher education exposed how government plans to make it much easier for new "competitor" universities to enter UK higher education were based on very limited information.

Data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) covers just 97 out of more than 700 alternative providers of higher education and does not detail the success rate of students on courses at alternative providers.

UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'The sheer scale of what is unknown highlights how the government is basing major decisions on the future of higher education on very limited information. 

'We do not believe that plans to increase the number of alternative providers can go ahead until we can quantify the risk to public finances and our universities' global reputation from a rapid expansion of private for-profit education.

'The scandals with for-profit companies in US higher education, like Trump University, must surely serve as a warning to our government.'

UCU opposes government plans in its Higher Education and Research Bill to relax restrictions on new higher education providers, many of them for-profit companies, which would make it much easier for them to become universities and offer degrees.

The union says scandals in the US, including the recent problems with for-profits such as Trump University, should act as a warning to the government on the importance of maintaining the UK's global reputation for excellence.