‘Cartel-like restriction’ towards new providers must end, Jo Johnson says

DailyBUzz-1024x553The Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation has published a letter making the case for new HE providers, an area of controversy at the House of Lords as the forthcoming HE and Research Bill makes its way through Parliament.

Jo Johnson responded to concerns about the Bill undermining the HE Sector’s autonomy by stressing the Bill ‘not only respects institutional autonomy but enshrines it as a clear principle in how Government will engage with the Office for Students’.

He continued that the new proposed landscape would ‘not tell universities what or how to teach’ but ‘will demand that their teaching delivers good outcomes’, and that those now opposing change should remember that historically universities have remained pillars of innovation and progress by refusing to accept the ‘status quo’.


The main aim of the letter was to highlight that objecting reforms that make it easier for new providers to enter the sector excluded new entrants such as the Dyson Institute of Technology, which is currently ’20 times oversubscribed for its initial places’ and scores 18% higher in female applicants than the sector average for engineering.

More importantly, the Minister added that in order to ‘invigorate our higher education system’, the sector had to break away from the ‘cartel-like restriction’ of existing providers blocking legitimate competitors.

Jo Johnson wrote:

…the path to degree awarding powers is blocked by inherently anti-competitive requirements that force [new providers] to find a competitor who will ‘validate’ their provision before they can issue their own degrees.

He reiterated that it was unfair for high-quality institutions to have to be ‘validated by their rivals’ and that the aim of the Bill was to ‘stop existing universities from acting like bouncers, deciding who should and should not be let into the club, and break open a closed shop that for too long has set the rules of the game in its own interests.’

Further amendments of the HE and Research Bill will be discussed at the House of Lords today, which continues at the Committee Stage.



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