Skunks in an English Woodland: Should England Embrace For-Profit Higher Education?

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The British government is encouraging the growth of for‐profit alternative providers of higher education (HE ). While it is true that for‐profits have opened HE access to previously under‐served groups and have been more agile in reacting to market demand, they have done so at a considerable cost to students and the taxpayer because they do not share in the cost of the failure of HE to ensure a payoff for many of their students. The US experience with for‐profits should be a cautionary tale for those supporting their expansion in Britain. Policy is needed to craft a regulatory framework that produces the benefits that for‐profits can provide, but minimises the costs that often accompany them. At present, it is far from clear that expanding alternative providers—that is, for‐profits—would ‘work better’ for students.

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John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

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The Political Quarterly