Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Only a Super-Regulator Can Preserve Truth, Justice and the Academic Way: News

Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Only a Super-Regulator Can Preserve Truth, Justice and the Academic Way: News

Article excerpt

A super-regulator similar to the Financial Conduct Authority should replace a "plethora" of watchdogs and quangos that have left higher education susceptible to major problems, a study says.

While several bodies, such as the Higher Education Funding Council for England and the Quality Assurance Agency, police the academy as part of a "regulatory framework", there are "major gaps" in its coverage, claims the report, published by the Higher Education Policy Institute on 7 November.

Without legislation to address changes to the system that have occurred since the introduction of Pounds 9,000 tuition fees, the government has "created a new environment fraught with risks and one that ... is in danger of being unregulated or at best badly regulated", says The Future Regulation of Higher Education in England.

One key issue that must be addressed is how Hefce can control courses funded by student loans, rather than its own direct teaching grants, the report says. Concerns over admissions, institutional failure, standards and the independence of funding agencies and regulators are also raised.

Authored by Roger Brown, professor of higher education policy at Liverpool Hope University, and Bahram Bekhradnia, director of Hepi, the report suggests that an overarching regulatory body - dubbed the "Office for Higher Education" - should be created.

Meanwhile, a new agency would combine the funding responsibilities of Hefce and the Student Loans Company.

That body would report to the government, but the super-regulator would report to Parliament, thereby ensuring its independence and the sector's confidence in it, the report argues. …

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