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Regent's College looks set to become the UK's third private university

PUBLISHED: 12:00 07 August 2012 | UPDATED: 13:10 07 August 2012

Private college Regent's College, Regent's Park has been given the power to award degrees to students from September.

Private college Regent's College, Regent's Park has been given the power to award degrees to students from September.

Archant

A college in Regent's Park could become the UK's third private university.

Regent’s College, in Inner Circle, has been awarded the power to grant university degrees by the Queen’s Privy Council.

It will operate entirely without State funding and will be awarding degrees from next month. It is applying for university status.

The not-for-profit college was set up in 1985 by Rockford College, Illinois, to provide a study-abroad programme for US students.

Profits

The college currently runs undergraduate and postgraduate courses in business, arts, social sciences and humanities. It has charitable status and all profits are ploughed back into the college.

Spencer Coles, chief operating officer at the college, said: “We have become more of a mature academic institution. It was natural progress to award degrees.

“It’s recognition of our changing status. It’s the first step to becoming a full-blown university.”

He said it would offer “smaller class sizes, personal tutors and higher contact time”.

About 4,000 students are enrolled at the college with tuition fees of £14,000 a year.

David Willetts, minister for universities and science, said: “The government is keen to encourage greater competition and choice in higher education provision in order to better respond to student demand.

“I am therefore pleased that another alternative provider, Regent’s College, has met the rigorous standards required of institutions who apply for the power to award degrees.”

The move has prompted fears that this could be the beginning of US-style profit-making universities.

A spokesman for University College Union, which represents more than 120,000 academics and lecturers, said: “The critical difference between Regent’s College and others applying for degree-awarding powers is that it is not-for-profit, so is not geared to making profits for shareholders.

“The government wants to diversify the market and bring in new providers but this is driven by the desire to create a for-profit sector.

“As we’ve seen from the US example, this could mean the emergence of fast-growing shareholder-oriented businesses that could damage our education system.”

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