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  • Study UK launches manifesto of recommendations to the next Government Study UK, the leading association of independent education providers of further and higher education, has launched its Manifesto 2015 (recommendations to the next Government) with a reception in the House of Commons. The Study UK Manifesto 2015 presents ten key policy recommendations to support the development of an efficient and innovative education sector, where the positive contribution of independent providers to student choice, employability, value and quality is acknowledged and properly supported. The recommendations outlined in the manifesto emphasise the need: To drive quality and innovation in higher education, by encouraging healthy competition within the sector To challenge the traditional UK model of a three-year, single discipline university degree, by supporting a modern mix of well-funded and valued qualifications To support the UK's strong position as the global home of education, with an attractive and globally competitive policy on international students The Study UK Manifesto 2015 also calls for a Higher Education Bill to be passed by 2017. Study UK believes that legislation is urgently required to establish the effective regulation of an increasingly diverse and dynamic sector and to enhance quality and value for both students and the taxpayer. Independent providers have long played an important part in the UK's education sector. Thanks to their unique subject focus, invaluable proximity to particular vocations, and an unparalleled commitment to the student experience, independent providers are proving overwhelmingly to be a catalyst for positive change in the sector. Alex Proudfoot, Chief Executive, Study UK said: “Independent providers play a vital role in equipping students with the knowledge and skills needed to meet the challenges of the 21st century. It is important that these providers are encouraged to grow and to thrive over the next five years and beyond. The current patchwork of regulation in higher education offers too much uncertainty for both students and providers, and it places a heavy administrative burden on the institutions Study UK represents. The Study UK Manifesto 2015 therefore calls for a new legislative framework to be established, with fairness, access and equitable treatment at its core. This framework should provide a clear route for new providers to enter the sector, should encourage innovation while protecting our reputation for quality, and should empower students to choose where and what to study with confidence.”
  • New rules for independent providers announced by Greg Clark MP Study UK responded to the announcement by Greg Clark, the Universities and Science Minister, of new rules for alternative higher education providers designated for student support. The measures include greater consistency in quality assurance, stronger admissions processes, and new data collection and publication requirements. He also confirmed that student numbers on degree courses at alternative providers would be allowed to increase by 20% in 2015-16, with further growth in 2016-17 to be based on performance. Alex Proudfoot, Chief Executive of Study UK, said: “These are thoughtful proposals which will help strengthen the UK’s already world-class higher education sector. Greg Clark rightly recognises the exceptionally high levels of student satisfaction and graduate employability in many independent providers, and their success in these areas will be amply demonstrated by the collection of new public information announced today. It is also great news that independent providers will be able to welcome more students onto their degree programmes this autumn. Study UK will work closely with the Minister's team on the implementation of these changes, and we look forward to helping prospective students choose confidently from the growing range of fantastic courses available in the UK." Study UK will be meeting with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) to explore some of the changes in more detail and discuss the timetable for implementation. We will also ask for clarification of the proposed annual renewal of designation, and will seek assurances that prospective students will not be disadvantaged by any strengthening of the existing annual monitoring process. It is of course essential that any student making their choice of undergraduate programme according to the standard UCAS timetable can feel confident in the availability of loans funding for the start of their course the followng year. 
  • National Audit Office investigation into financial support for students at alternative HE providers Study UK, the leading association of independent education providers, welcomes the National Audit Office’s investigation into financial support for students at alternative higher education providers.  Alternative Providers play a vital role in the UK higher education sector, offering excellent quality provision and opportunities to students who might otherwise not participate in higher education. Quality-assured, Government-designated HE courses form an important part of the broader provision available at Study UK members, who offer world-class tuition to a diverse range of quality students from the UK, EU and beyond. As the NAO confirms, many new controls have been introduced in the short period of time covered by this report. Greater clarity in the setting and monitoring of standards has already been seen through the steps taken by regulators and providers, who have had to adjust rapidly to significant change, requiring new investment in systems and infrastructure, as well as staff re-training. Study UK has supported many providers through these changes, and continues to advise its members on compliance issues to ensure that practice and provision is of consistently high quality. Alex Proudfoot, Association Manager, said: “Today’s report, along with research published yesterday by CentreForum, highlights the rapid growth of Alternative Providers and the positive contribution they make to the higher education landscape in offering quality and affordable tuition to a diverse group of students. There is now an urgent need for primary legislation to strengthen and consolidate recent piecemeal changes to higher education regulation. Study UK will continue to press all parties to support the drafting, debate and implementation of a higher education bill in the next parliament. New legislation will be key to ensuring that the regulatory system is fit for purpose, is built to meet the needs of a modern and heterogeneous HE sector, and effectively promotes competition between providers in the educational quality, innovation and value for money of their provision.” The NAO report highlights the necessity of strong working relationships between Alternative Providers and regulators, relationships that Study UK has worked hard to build on behalf of its members. Study UK fully backs the Government’s work so far to prevent any misspending of public funds and also supports a comprehensive review of Student Loans Company processes to ensure that the necessary controls are in place to weed out any applications for support by ineligible students. 
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