This HEPI blog has been kindly written for HEPI by Natalie Day, Johnny Rich and Professor Sir Chris Husbands.
Writing for HEPI in December, Mary Curnock Cook and Malcolm Grant argued that the ways in which the Office for Students applies QAA methodology to new entrants to HE prevents the emergence of different forms of higher education provision. As a result, the vision of a more diverse higher education system which lay at the heart of Jo Johnson’s Higher Education and Research Act (2017) was not materialising. A different approach to assessing new providers, they argued, might unlock more.
We agree with Mary and Malcolm that the assessment of new entrants to higher education is frequently too risk averse. But we argue that this is not the principal impediment to a more diverse and innovative sector. The roots of the problem are deeper and far harder to dig out. While the regulatory approach is fraught with challenge and needs reform, the sector has some self-reflection of its own to do this space.