Publisher Pearson launches UK degree course

Exam hall Pearson is expanding from an exam board to delivering a degree course

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Pearson, the major international publisher and education firm, is to become a for-profit private higher education provider in the UK.

The firm is opening Pearson College, teaching a degree course validated by existing London universities.

The business and enterprise degree, taught in London and Manchester, will have about 40 places this year.

The college says it will be for "students who are serious about succeeding in business".

Pearson says this will be the first time a FTSE 100 company has directly delivered a degree course.

It will be seen as a significant symbolic step into UK higher education from a major player in the education market.

Lower fees

Pearson owns the Edexcel exam board, along with educational publishing interests and digital education businesses. It owns Penguin and the Financial Times.

The BSc degree course, which will be taught in Pearson's offices, will offer places from this autumn.

Start Quote

We have a network of blue-chip industry relationships”

End Quote Roxanne Stockwell Managing director, Pearson College

Tuition fees will be £6,500 per year - below the average for universities, many of which are now charging £9,000 per year.

There will be an option of an accelerated two-year course, as well as studying over three years.

The college will not have its own degree-awarding powers - so the degree will be validated by Royal Holloway and Bedford New College, which is part of the University of London.

Pearson wants to provide a degree course which will teach practical, hands-on business skills.

"We have a network of blue-chip industry relationships, many of whom are working with us on the design and delivery of our degree programmes," said the college's managing director Roxanne Stockwell.

"This gives us an inherent understanding of the modern business environment and employer needs."

But Sally Hunt, leader of the UCU lecturers' union, raised concerns about the expansion of private providers in the UK university system.

"Opening the door to for-profit companies in higher education is very risky, especially given this government's failure to regulate provision and monitor courses run by private providers," she said.

Private sector

Pearson will become part of a growing but still relatively small private higher education sector.

There had been ambitions for a much bigger shake-up in higher education - with the expectation of more private providers offering degree courses.

Start Quote

Opening the door to for-profit companies in higher education is very risky”

End Quote Sally Hunt UCU lecturers' union

But the White Paper which set out plans for a more competitive market did not become legislation.

Despite this there have been some signs of private providers playing a bigger role.

Last month Regent's College in London gained its own degree-awarding powers.

And BPP University College, a for-profit university with its own degree-awarding powers, announced it was expanding into health-related degree courses.

Although there had been an expectation of more overseas providers offering courses in the UK, there are indications that technology is changing more rapidly than regulations.

This year has seen the rapid emergence of online university courses in the United States, headed by partnerships involving institutions such as Harvard, MIT, Stanford and Princeton.

The California-based Coursera consortium, set up by academics at Stanford University, reported last week that since launching earlier this year it had signed up a million students around the world.

This included an estimated 40,000 students based in the UK.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 269.

    One last point / idea on this topic if I may: I'd be very interested to know the opinions on Pearson's proposal by the self-made business-man / millionaire Duncan Bannatyne; what content he'd include in such a course on enterprise / entrepreneurship for the masses; and whether he thinks such a course would even be of benefit anyway? Else, maybe just a simple matter of 'learning by doing'...

  • rate this

    Comment number 268.

    Bet your boots the Govt approves of this, more bums on seats that they don't pay for. Only problem is will the graduates still be able to compete for prime positions against Oxbridge graduates? I don't think so. Still. it makes it look like something is being done to combat feudalism - let the poor have a few degrees so they, the elite and powerful ,can maintain their control. "Let them eat cake"

  • rate this

    Comment number 267.

    "I studied a Pearson apprenticeship (Advanced Apprenticeship in Software, Web, IT and Telecoms Professional), and it was the worst thing I have ever done... The whole thing was a complete farce, and the length of the apprenticeship (39 weeks) had to be extended about 4 times because hardly any of us ..." - EmmaB

    Appears to be no relief, bad degrees, bad apprenticeships, what to do?...

  • rate this

    Comment number 266.

    In my experience, Pearson has had already had an extremely detrimental effect on UK education because of its ppoor Edexcel exam syllabi. These have led the dumbing-down race to the bottom.

    No wonder Mick Waters, former director of the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, Mick Waters described the exam system as 'diseased' and 'almost corrupt'

  • rate this

    Comment number 265.

    The litmus test is when it sits on your CV, and £30K of debt rolls around your credit rating. Will a Pearson get you to where you want to be? Will a Poly/Uni do the same thing? Or would getting an internship somewhere be more advantageous regardless....

    Let the buyer beware.

  • rate this

    Comment number 264.

    I think Pearson might be on to a good thing here after all: there's definitely a gap in the market these days for any form of decent / experienced business support / teaching for people to learn about the 'real' issues of enterprise; I speak from experience of undertaking a business management course at a university, far too 'wishy washy', didn't hit at all upon the 'real' issues needed to know

  • rate this

    Comment number 263.

    I am very aware of Pearson's corporate ethics and I personally feel extremely dissatisfied by them. I am unable to say any more due to libel law.

  • rate this

    Comment number 262.

    Not sure what I think about this yet: first reaction is that it does seem very interesting - if one wishes to learn about business / commerce, and thus have a sound footing of theoretical knowledge in advance of getting going, then surely it's better to gain that knowledge from experienced professionals. Business enterprise is by no means an academic subject and so shouldn't be taught as such imo

  • Comment number 261.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 260.

    EU countries are queuing to provide degrees in English, at a fraction of the cost. Germany charges less than £1000, Holland less than £3000 per year

    =>makes me wonder why English students don't cost their tuition better. At £3k per term, lets say 50 "sessions" that works out at £60 per lecture/assessment. Do they get value?

  • rate this

    Comment number 259.

    Dunno.. this sounds strangely like those "technical institutes" where you get a BSc in Refrigerator Maintenance.

  • rate this

    Comment number 258.

    Another degree that's not worth the paper its written on, It seems you can obtain a degree from the corner shops nowadays!

  • rate this

    Comment number 257.

    'It seems to me that whenever the word profit is mentoned it brings out the sceptics especially those who think business is a dirty word'

    Over the last 15 yrs people have become far more cynical about 'business' due to the way it has been perverted to allow the 1% to rape the 99%. These companies are self-serving and have no social responsibility at all.

  • rate this

    Comment number 256.

    And this why we won the Olympics . . because we will wave our flags while globalization robs us and set a good example to the rest of the world.

    The French aren't so gullible.

  • rate this

    Comment number 255.

    Slave labour.

    Use or similar website and work freelance.

    And no BBC, I don't work for them

  • rate this

    Comment number 254.

    #243 Actually he probably does have a higher degree of literacy than me. (I'm not rising to your jibe). Its one advantage a history degree has over a genetics degree. Historians have to write very long essays weekly. Scientists don't. In fact if you read papers in 'Nature' etc the writing style approved in scientific papers is almost unreadable.

    P.S 400 chars. hardly suits good grammar either

  • rate this

    Comment number 253.

    "51.Rufus McDufus
    Nobody forced them to push the fees up!"
    Actually, the Government forced them when they cut Government funding of universities.

    Because they're funding research from the students fees as well as teaching."
    Research funding is completely separate to tuition fees and comes from places like Cancer research UK and the Wellcome Trust.

  • rate this

    Comment number 252.

    Why not save the coupons off your kellogs packet and get an American degree instead !!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 251.

    The National Lottery funded our superb athletes, of which a vast amount came from universities, so lets go one better and have the National Lottery help the working class kids who' have ability but whose parents can't afford to fund them. After all I bet the majority of lottery money comes from the working classes anyway.

  • rate this

    Comment number 250.

    Let's have lots of UK graduates at the expense of other EU taxpayers.
    Then we can earn foreign income by taking Chinese students.

    Except the Chinese no longer regard an overseas degree as being as good as their own (BBC News). The op's point was that you study, in English, for a recognized degree in, for example, Poland for a fraction of the cost of s Student Loan.


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