Today, the Department for Business Innovation and Skills published research conducted by BAC and CFE Research in 2012 on privately funded providers of HE. BAC’s expertise and understanding of the private sector was sought to assist in ensuring the research accessed, and was representative of, the private sector.

The research revealed that approximately 160,000 students are studying in around 670 private providers of HE. Other headlines include:

  • High levels of student satisfaction were evidenced, equivalent to that found in the publicly funded university sector
  • Most providers have fewer than 500 students, with BAC’s previous research suggesting an ‘average’ private provider has around 200 students
  • A small proportion, around 30 institutions, had more than 1000 students
  • Over 70% of institutions are based in London and the South East
  • 54% of providers are not for profit, with 39% not-for-profit and 6% ‘other’
  • 49% of students are from the UK, with 10% EU and 41% non-EU

In terms of future planning, private providers expect to continue to develop partnerships with public HEIs and businesses. With regard to students, there’s positivity in the sector, with reports of expected increases in UK and EU students and, in some instances, non-EU students. With regard to degree awarding powers, low numbers of respondents (~30) were expecting to apply for their own degree awarding powers in the near future.

On threats, a significant number of respondents considered that immigration policy had been and was likely to continue to be the biggest inhibitor. Student funding was also an area of concern.

David Willetts, Universities Minister, wrote in The Telegraph today and states: I firmly believe that by bringing new models and new competition into the system the best alternative providers will also drive up that quality, pushing others to innovate as well as to be more efficient.

My thanks to BAC’s accredited colleges, past and present, who contributed to the research. It is a pleasure to be able to share this informative, fact-based and ultimately positive story about private HE provision in the UK.

Please contact BAC if you would like to know more about the research and private FE and HE provision.

Dr Gina Hobson