First higher education institution is stripped access to student loans amid concerns

The first higher education institution has been stripped of its access to student loans amid concerns over low quality degrees.The Bloomsbury Institute, which is based in central London and run by a for-profit company, offers degrees in business, accountancy and law.But the higher education watchdog, the Office for Students (OfS) announced on Thursday that it has refused the registration application of the institute, citing concerns about the “quality of student outcomes”.Almost a third  (29.3 per cent) of students dropped out before completing their degrees, according to the latest data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (Hesa) which showed that out of 730 full time students, 215 failed to complete their courses in 2016/17.The OfS said it was also not satisfied with the graduate employment rates for students after completing degrees at the institution.    Nick Hillman, director of the higher education policy institute, said this is likely to be the first of a “handful” of institutions that will have its application to register declined.He said that the move is “completely unprecedented” adding that the reputational consequences are “quite severe”.Every higher education provider has to register with the OfS in order to receive public funds, recruit international students, award degrees and call itself a university. The decision by the OfS means that any new students wishing to enroll at the Bloomsbury Institute will be barred from taking out loans from the Student Loans Company, and so will have to instead meet the cost of tuition themselves upfront.Existing students will be able to take out student loans to fund the remaining years of their course. The OfS said that the Bloomsbury Institute, which had its degrees validated by Northampton University, failed to meet its conditions for registration on “management and governance”.The regulator said that the Institute’s “student outcome data and a lack of credibility in its student and financial forecasts mean that there is insufficient reliable evidence to determine that management and governance arrangements are adequate and effective”.Set up in 2002 to offer courses in business and computing, the Bloomsbury Institute was originally called London School of Business and Management.It changed its name in 2018 part of a re-brand which it said was to “signal our growing reputation and ambition”.On its website, the institution says: “While many institutions seem designed to keep students out, we’re dedicated to welcoming anyone who has the potential to succeed.”Northampton University declined to comment on whether it would continue to accredit degrees from the Bloomsbury Institute. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. A Bloomsbury Institute spokesman said they are “disappointed” with the OfS decision and “believe that the OfS has failed to fully appreciate the challenges some of our students face”.The spokesman added: “The OfS decision is based on their concern for students who do not successfully complete our degrees and the proportion of graduates who do not enter graduate employment within six months of finishing their course. “We hope that Bloomsbury Institute will be offered a place on the new Register when we make a fresh application to the Office for Students in the next academic year.”

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