Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

When Owners Change, Keep Check on Powers

Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

When Owners Change, Keep Check on Powers

Article excerpt

Amid all the media coverage of the "sale" of the College of Law, it is worth trying to pin down the issue of degree-awarding powers as the prime concern of the purchaser.

The College of Law as a charitable chartered corporation "sells" these powers, its staff, its students and its reputation/goodwill; the money raised by the sale of such charitable assets has to be redeployed into a newly registered grant-making charity and will be used to fund bursaries and scholarships. Meanwhile, the private equity purchaser will utilise the brand name "College of Law" and crack on as a money-making business (probably one day selling the brand to another for-profit provider so that investors can get a return).

There is nothing worth buying without degree-awarding powers, and doubtless the posh law firms involved will have done all due diligence to ensure that they can indeed change hands. Such powers can be awarded only by the Privy Council as guided by the Quality Assurance Agency and the government; for "real" higher education institutions they are permanent, but for the likes of the College of Law, initially they last for six years. …

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