CGHE 2020 Annual Conference webinar: Governing public and private higher education in UK and beyond

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the 2020 CGHE conference did not go ahead as planned on 1 April at Senate House, University of London. Instead we are bringing to a larger worldwide audience the pick of this year’s conference discussion as a webinar series. The third webinar in the conference paper series focuses on the governance of higher education. Stephen A. Hunt and Vikki Boliver unpick the private higher education sector in the UK. Jurgen Enders and Aniko Horvath draw on interviews with policymakers and university leaders from the UK, Germany and Norway to compare changes in higher education governance.

The private higher education landscape in the UK
Stephen A. Hunt and Vikki Boliver
The UK government sees private higher education providers as a key means of stimulating ‘competition’ within the sector, hoping to generate greater choice, higher quality and lower cost and has subsidised new start-ups generously in the last decade. But the private sector remains largely a black box, to policy makers along with the public. We analyse data for 802 private HE providers currently operating in the UK and identify four types of institution: for-profit providers offering business/IT courses at sub-degree (c.50%) or masters (c.10%) level, not-for-profit providers offering other kinds of specialist provision at bachelors and masters level (c.27%), and longer-standing for-profit providers with their own degree-awarding powers delivering courses mainly at masters level (c.13%). Three of these four provider types offer little in the way of traditional bachelor degree provision, and the most common type is highly vulnerable to “market exit”. These findings cast significant doubt on the capacity of private providers to replace or enhance publicly funded HE provision.

The place of the region: Higher education governance in the UK, Germany and Norway
Jurgen Enders and Aniko Horvath
Following interviews with policymakers and university leaders from three countries, we consider the role of sub-national regions in higher education governance, which has interesting implications for the higher education landscape. We will explore three version of this story: the devolution of public authority to the home countries in the United Kingdom, regional collaboration and competition in the federal system of higher education in Germany, and the regional re-configurations of higher education during national merger policies in Norway. In the interplay between national, regional and institutional levels off governance the role and character of higher education is shifting and changing.