The consultation seeks input on the proposed single regulatory framework to cover all institutions designated for student support and those eligible for a HEFCE teaching grant. Key will be the detail of the proposed new "legally binding agreement" between institutions and HEFCE, which is to replace the Financial Memorandum for those in receipt of a HEFCE teaching grant. A question is asked particularly about the risk of independent providers that fail in some way or become insolvent - and the need to protect students. Is a financial bond or deposit required? An important aspect of the regulatory framework for higher education which is not mentioned in the BIS consultation is the control imposed by the UK Border Agency in respect of student immigration under Tier 4 of the Points Based System.
Private colleges which provide predominantly higher education now have until 9 September to make an application to the Quality Assurance Agency for "educational oversight" if they wish to seek or maintain the required Highly Trusted Sponsor status with the UKBA. Although alternative providers are to become subject to the same regulatory requirements on many fronts (such as having to subscribe to QAA and the OIA), there is no mention of this group of bodies having to comply with the onerous requirements of the Freedom of Information legislation which applies to "public authorities", currently defined to include those bodies in receipt of HEFCE funding.