A report published today, entitled “Competition or collaboration?” following research commissioned by Universities UK, clearly articulates the place in the Higher Education ecology of both "for profit" and "not for profit" providers of HE courses and awards. GuildHE is co-sponsoring today’s conference exploring the issues raised by the report at Regent’s College, part of GuildHE’s “not for profit” HEI membership.

Professor Ruth Farwell, Chair of GuildHE and Vice Chancellor of Buckinghamshire New University commented, "GuildHE has always been a supporter of diversity in the higher education sector and it has a number of private providers in membership alongside its publicly funded members. This report is a valuable study of a less publicly visible part of the Higher Education landscape. It is increasingly the case that both not for profit and for profit teaching institutions have a growing part to play in opportunities for learning in the UK.

GuildHE members leading both public and private institutions have seen they have much to learn from each other’s best practices and the report rightly identifies the blurring of boundaries between sectors. In particular those who wish to travel the same demanding road to the acquisition of taught degree awarding powers have much to offer in terms of mutual support. All should agree with the report’s recommendations on the need to ensure the adequacy of the quality assurance mechanisms, across all higher education providers, which GuildHE members agree should be in place to protect both the students and the best interests of UK HE’s global position.

She also pointed out, "It must also not be forgotten that it is through collaborations with many of the publicly funded institutions, including in franchised programmes, that many providers in the private sector of pre-higher and higher education are able to do business. It is the validating institution that carries the responsibility for ensuring the quality and standards of courses and awards given in their name.  Their effectiveness in this achievement is subject to close scrutiny by the Quality Assurance Agency."

Alice Hynes, CEO of GuildHE, commented, "The business-like behaviours expected of institutions, their delivery of a private educational service to their overseas students and the set of commercial services offered to the professions and industries in which they specialise, make the charitable publicly funded HEIs much closer in character and delivery to their private sector colleagues. GuildHE members have been keen to be a place where this dialogue and good practice exchange can happen and where there is greater attention to student expectations.

GuildHE will be especially interested in considering the report’s recommendations about the role and expectations of representative bodies. The wide range of private providers may mean one body to provide representation, as proposed, is insufficient. It may be that a number of the larger HE focused providers have more in common with their publicly funded fellows than with more specialist or pre-HE private colleges."


Notes to editors

1. For further information on the Universities UK report and to receive an electronic copy please contact the Universities UK Press Office on 020 7419 5407 or email pressunit@universitiesuk.ac.uk


2. The report was produced for Universities UK by John Fielden of CHEMS Consulting with the help of Professor Robin Middlehurst and Steve Woodfield from Kingston University and Don Olcott and his colleagues from the Observatory of Borderless Higher Education. Contribution was made to the research material they used by a number of GuildHE members including not for profit and for profit private providers.


3. GuildHE is one of the two formal representative bodies for Higher Education alongside Universities UK.


4. GuildHE is an inclusive body, with members across universities, university colleges and specialist institutions. The members include many institutions with a specialist mission or subject focus and major providers in art and design, music and the performing arts, agriculture, education and health. 


5. GuildHE members are among the most dynamic and fastest-growing institutions in higher education. For a list of GuildHE institutions, please click here