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UK government to review BPP University status after owner’s sale

Institution’s university title and degree-awarding powers to be looked at

March 8, 2017

The UK government will decide whether BPP University should continue to be eligible for university title and degree-awarding powers, after its US owner was sold to a private equity consortium for $1.1 billion (£899 million).

BPP, one of only three for-profit universities in the UK, saw the sale of its owner, Apollo Education Group, completed last month.

The deal, which takes the company private, also includes its big US for-profit institutions, such as the University of Phoenix and Western International University.

The new owners are a consortium including Vistria Group, a private equity firm run by Marty Nesbitt – a Chicago businessman sometimes described as Barack Obama’s best friend – and former US deputy education secretary Tony Miller. The consortium also includes “funds affiliated” with private equity firm Apollo Global Management, according to the Washington Post.

The change of ownership for BPP comes as the UK government nears the final stages of steering through Parliament the Higher Education and Research Bill, which aims to further open England’s sector to new private and for-profit providers.

While ministers believe that new providers are needed to introduce greater competition for established universities, critics believe creating more for-profit universities that can go through repeated changes in ownership may have an impact on quality for students.

An independent review of BPP will now be submitted to the Higher Education Funding Council for England, including checks on whether the institution continues to meet student number and governance requirements. Hefce will, in turn, advise the Department for Education on the institution’s future status.