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Pearson launches HE college, UK

Pearson, the education and media giant, is to launch a private higher education college in the UK next month, in a symbolic first step into the small but growing private higher education market.

“Where we think we can add the most value is in designing and delivering for our own students”

Pearson College will deliver undergraduate degrees at bases in London and Manchester, launching with a business and enterprise course for high achievers that will teach practical business skills with top industry placements.

The college’s managing director, Roxanne Stockwell, said: ”Our degrees are designed by business, delivered with business, for students who are serious about succeeding in business. We have a network of blue-chip industry relationships, many of whom are working with us on the design and delivery of our degree programmes.”

The college will not have its own degree-awarding powers

Despite the controversy surrounding for-profit education in the UK, Pearson – which is often ahead of curve on market trends – appears to be responding to government plans to open up the HE sector to private providers.

These could make it easier for providers to access state backed student loans, achieve degree awarding powers (as granted to Regents College last month) and carry the title university.

Asked why the company had entered the market, having expressing no previous desire to do so, Stockwell told The Financial Times: “Where we think we can add the most value is in designing and delivering for our own students.”

The college will not have its own degree-awarding powers – so the degree will be validated by Royal Holloway and Bedford New College, which is part of the University of London. One analyst said that Pearson was testing a model that, if successful, would be rolled out in the UK and beyond.

A trial cohort of 40 students will be admitted to Pearson College this year with 100 students expected in 2013. Fees are set at £6,500 a year, some way below the maximum £9,000 chargeable by public universities.

“We want a diverse, competitive HE sector that can offer different types of higher education”

The BSc in Business and Enterprise will include internships within Pearson or its partners with course input from companies such as Nationwide and Cisco.

A spokeswoman for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said: “We remain committed to the vision we set out in last year’s Higher Education (HE) White Paper.

“We want a diverse, competitive HE sector that can offer different types of higher education, giving students the ability to choose between a wide range of providers. We can achieve much through non-legislative action.”

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