Essential reading for education companies worldwide
Remember me:
Skip Navigation LinksEI article
Exclusive: FE colleges could be privatised, say experts

Changes to the laws surrounding further education colleges could open the way to privatisation, sector experts have said.
Speaking at a recent EducationInvestor conference, David Hughes, the chief executive of the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education and a former director of the Skills Funding Agency, said: "There is a willingness – it might even be a desire – on the part of the government for a college to be privatised.
"It will happen, and I think it'll send shockwaves through the sector," he added.
A number of regulatory changes included in the Education Age 2011 have made such takeovers possible.
From 22 April, when the act comes into force, colleges will be able to change their own instruments and articles of government, removing the business secretary's ability to constrain their actions. The Office of National Statistics also announced in February that it would reclassify FE colleges as private sector bodies.
The act will also allow colleges to convert to a new legal form open to investment, such as a company limited by shares.
Colleges will be required to maintain their charitable status. But Glynne Stanfield, an education lawyer with Eversheds, pointed out that this was also true of the College of Law, which is currently in the process of a private equity buyout.
"The type of deal could equally happen in an FE context," he said, adding that private investment in the sector would be very attractive "from the point of view of a government that wants education to be less dependent on the taxpayer".
A growing share of Hefce funding is being offered to lower-cost courses taught by FE colleges. This could also make the sector an attractive alternative to investors seeking a foothold in the higher education market, Stanfield added.


Posted on: 19/03/2012

Latest news

Arena REIT announced it intends to raise A$55 million (£29.9 million) to help fund the acquisition of 11 new centres.
PwC has been mandated to sell Safety Media, a health and safety e-learning provider, EducationInvestor Global can exclusively reveal.
First-time buyer John Keeling has purchased former childcare setting Polly’s Day Nursery in Biddulph, Staffordshire, in a sale led by Redwoods Dowling Kerr, a healthcare- and childcare-focused real estate agency.
Student housing provider Urbanest has announced plans to sell its Australian accommodation platform, with M3 Capital Partners mandated to facilitate the deal.
GEMS-owned Bellevue Education has acquired Farlington School in West Sussex, England, bringing the group’s total number of European sites to 21.
Nursery group Just Childcare has secured a multi-million-pound injection from Allied Irish Bank to support its acquisition strategy.
Early childcare education franchise MUSE Global is actively seeking new partners as it looks to expand into the United Arab Emirates and India.
Support Education Group (SEG) is closing in on Judicium Education, the school support services provider brought to market in August last year, EducationInvestor Global can exclusively reveal.
Struggling Hadlow College in Kent has requested to be put into educational administration, in the first application of its kind in the UK, following financial difficulties and ongoing investigation.
Hong Kong-based international education management company Full Circle Education Group has acquired summer course provider Our World English Schools.

Middle East | Dubai SEN regulations

Consultant Beatrice Cernuta spent four years launching special needs settings in Dubai before returning to EY-Parthenon. She speaks with Josh O'Neill about how the emirate’s private schools should approach new regulations requiring them to cater to special needs students by 2020

my images

Europe | UK early years

A co-founder of Nord Anglia plans to rapidly scale his UK-based early years business Just Childcare, but he won't be casting a net into international waters anytime soon, he tells Josh O'Neill