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UK college gains degree-awarding powers

The UK coalition government has granted the sixth private college ever the power to award its own degrees in a bid to open up the higher education sector to private providers. Regent’s College in a leafy central London location has become the first college to gain the status under the current government.

“The granting of degree awarding powers corroborates the high quality that our students experience"

It joins Ashridge Business School, BPP University College, the University of Buckingham, ifs School of Finance and the College of Law. Another college will join the list this week but its identity is yet to be made public.

Regents College, which has so far offered the degrees validated by various partner universities, says it now plans to apply for university status. If granted, it would become the second private university in the UK after the University of Buckingham.

“It has been a magnificent team effort from everybody at the college over the last five years,” Steve Phillips, head of Regent’s English language school (Internexus) told The PIE News.

“The granting of degree awarding powers corroborates the high quality that our students experience but also shows the commitment of all our employees, academics and support staff.”

He added: “We’re planning to apply for University title in the very near future and look forward to new opportunities that status will bring with it.”

The government wants to open up the UK’s cash-strapped HE sector to private providers to create more competition and meet growing demand.

It has commissioned the first ever survey of private higher and further education in the UK which will chart the size and USP of the sector, with new regulations for private operators likely to follow, as indicated in the government’s education White Paper released last summer.

“The government is keen to encourage greater competition and choice”

The government has also said it wants more foreign providers to set up in the UK. Universities Minister David Willetts said this week: “The government is keen to encourage greater competition and choice in higher education provision in order to better respond to student demand.

“I am therefore pleased that another alternative provider, Regent’s College, has met the rigorous standards required of institutions who apply for the power to award degrees.”

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