Institute of Education


VIRTUAL EVENT: Governing public and private higher education in UK and beyond

30 June 2020, 2:00 pm–3:00 pm

UCL Library. Image: Mat Wright for UCL

This webinar focuses on the governance of higher education, including unpicking the private higher education sector in the UK and comparing changes in higher education governance.

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to







Centre for Global Higher Education


The private higher education (HE) landscape in the UK 

Stephen Hunt and Vikki Boliver 

The UK government sees private HE 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. 

The team analyses data for 802 private higher education providers currently operating in the UK and identify four types of institutions: 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

Jürgen Enders and Aniko Horvath

Following interviews with policymakers and university leaders from three countries, this talk will consider the role of sub-national regions in higher education governance, which has interesting implications for the higher education landscape. 

It 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 of governance the role and character of higher education is shifting and changing.


On the CGHE's local higher education engagement research programme:


Image: Mat Wright for UCL