24 October 2011, by Martin Doel OBE
With the release of its White Paper ‘Higher education: students at the heart of the system’ in June 2011, the United Kingdom (UK) Coalition Government signalled the direction of its policy for higher education in England. The White Paper was preceded by the Browne Review into the financing of higher education and much of the subsequent media commentary has concentrated upon the increase in tuition fees up to a ceiling of GBP9,000, supported by a revised system of student loans. The White Paper was, however, also notable for an increased emphasis upon diversity of supply within higher education, inviting greater involvement by private for profit universities and further education (FE) colleges. This diversity of supply was linked philosophically to a greater emphasis upon student choice with students being seen as empowered consumers.