Serious allegations of fraudulent practices at alternative providers show that the Department for Education (the Department) has not done enough to close down opportunities to play the system, allowing the sector to become a ‘chancer’s charter’. Since the Committee previously reported in 2015, the Department has made some progress in strengthening its oversight of alternative providers. Fewer students are dropping out of their courses, and the Department has strengthened controls and committed more resources to tackling fraud. However, one in four students at alternative providers are still not completing their courses, compared to one in ten in the rest of the higher education sector, and a further £10 million has been paid out to students or providers who are not eligible for student loan funding. We expect the new Office for Students to learn the lessons from the Department’s experience to date when it takes over responsibility for the alternative provider sector.
6 March 2018