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safeguarding standards and improving the quality of UK higher education

80 per cent of private providers achieving quality standards

Date 20/04/2017

​The majority of private higher education colleges are meeting nationally agreed quality and standards checks.

A study of review outcomes for 38 alternative providers of higher education (APs), conducted by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) in 2015-16, identified the following:

  • 80% received a positive outcome, a higher proportion than in previous years
  • APs performed better than further education colleges, of which around 30% received one or more negative judgements
  • four APs were commended for their student learning opportunities
  • high performing APs are more likely to have universities as awarding bodies
  • longer established providers with a distinct mission and purpose tend to perform well.

Seven of the 38 providers received negative reviews, a lower proportion than reviews (of 27 colleges) undertaken in 2013-15.

Five of these received two or more unsatisfactory judgements. Typically, these providers have a limited understanding of higher education and tend to have a superficial engagement with the Quality Code.

Of the 38 providers reviewed, 16 had a relationship with Pearson to deliver Higher National Diplomas and/or Certificates. Over 80 per cent of providers offering Pearson courses received a recommendation for improvement related to their Pearson delivery.

QAA's Director of Quality Assurance, Will Naylor, said: 'Alternative providers are an important part of the higher education landscape, contributing to the diversity, choice and opportunities available.

'Government policy actively supports new, high quality providers in entering the sector. However, there is a high bar for quality to safeguard the interests of students and the hard-won reputation of UK higher education.'