To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what discussions (a) he and (b) the Minister responsible for higher education has had with the Office for Students on universities that have experienced a decline in student numbers of more than 10 per cent since 2012.
12 November 2018
In the new higher education (HE) regulatory framework, the Office for Students (OfS) has responsibilities to monitor and assess the financial viability of registered providers. In this work, the OfS as regulator, rather than the department, takes into account the individual circumstances of each provider applying to be on the new register of publicly-funded providers. It will therefore have taken into account the financial viability and individual circumstances of the twelve English universities that have experienced a decline in student numbers of more than 10 per cent since 2012.
We have also given the OfS powers to ensure that registered providers have plans in place to protect their students, via appropriately constructed student protection plans. Where the OfS identifies particular risks to a provider’s financial sustainability, the student protection plan may need to be strengthened in a tailored way before it can be agreed. The requirement by the OfS that all registered providers have a student protection plan means that for the first time in the higher education sector there will be a consistent sector-wide approach to student protection arrangements.
It is the responsibility of Vice-Chancellors and HE provider leaders to ensure their institutions are financially viable. We will not prop up failing providers.
I meet regularly with the Chair and Chief Executive of the OfS to discuss the full range of issues relevant to the higher education sector. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State also has similar meetings.