Private university expands into health sector

By Sean Coughlan
BBC News education correspondent

Image caption,
BPP University College says it wants to expand further in the next five years

A private university college is set to offer degrees to the health sector - the first such courses from a for-profit provider in the UK.

BPP University College is launching its School of Health, starting this autumn with courses in psychology and nursing.

A three-year psychology degree will cost £15,000, at a time when many universities are set to charge fees of £9,000 per year.

"The education landscape is changing," says principal Carl Lygo.

This announcement marks the breaking of new ground for profit-making private providers in higher education.

'Accelerated' courses

BPP University College, based in London with branches around the country, is moving beyond its core areas of law, accountancy and business.

The university college, one of the few private providers with its own degree-awarding powers, is to provide a BSc psychology degree.

There will be an option to take this in an "accelerated" form - over two years - with a reduction in fees to £12,000.

The other inaugural course will be a BSc in "nursing diploma to degree", for registered nurses wanting to "top up" to degree level. The fees for this course will be £4,000.

"Over the next decade we will see a different picture emerging, where both students and employers will drive demand for their preferred method of study and training," said Mr Lygo.

"We have some exciting growth plans for the next five years, which include expanding into other sectors, increasing our range of programmes and providing highly flexible methods of study," he said.

BPP University College is distinct within the small group of private higher education providers that can award degrees, as it operates for profit, rather than as a charity or trust. It is also part of a wider US-owned education group.

The government announced plans for an expansion of the private sector in universities, but the proposals in the White Paper published last year have not progressed to become legislation.

Under changes announced last year, students at private universities are eligible for state-funded tuition fee loans up to £6,000 per year.

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