After reforming student finance, the UK Government now wishes to liberalise the higher education sector. The rationale is simple. If the Government is paying less of the cost of higher education and students are paying more, then the sector should be more responsive to students. Students will be paying the bills so they should be taking the decisions as to where they go to university and how they study. Why restrict their options to the currently established universities and why exclude profit-making institutions?
The Government is also trying to put different types of higher education on a similar footing so that there is now a less clear division between part-time and full-time courses from the point of view of student support. Given this, it would seem illogical to keep out of the university sector the private sector, profit-making institutions that have traditionally served so well those who are taking part-time courses whilst working in a profession.
Unfortunately, the reform agenda has become confused and the legislation delayed as the Coalition to sort out ideological differences and practical details, but the direction of travel should be clear.