College loses High Court battle with HE regulator

A college has been refused admission to the Office for Students’ register of higher education providers and had an application for an injunction to conceal the decision rejected by the High Court.

Barking and Dagenham College was refused access to the HE register because it “has failed to demonstrate that it delivers successful outcomes for all of its higher education students”, according to the universities regulator.

After being informed of this, the college appealed and also sought an injunction to prevent the OfS from publishing the decision.

The hearing was held this week.

Susan Lapworth, director of competition and registration at the OfS, said: “We welcome the court’s judgment which allows us to publish an important regulatory decision in the interests of current and prospective students.

“This means that all students will have the information necessary to make informed choices about their studies. The OfS is prepared to defend vigorously the interests of students through the courts and, as in this case, we will seek to recoup the costs of such litigation.”

Barking and Dagenham College principal, Yvonne Kelly, said the OfS “have failed to consider and appreciate the richness of the college’s offer and outcomes in their decision; further education colleges open up the opportunity to study at a higher level to people that otherwise wouldn’t be able to access higher education.

“Removal of our direct HE funding reduces the opportunities for our community and marginalises the people within it”.

She added: “Our priority, as ever, is our students and our staff and we will do everything we can to minimise any impact on them arising from the OfS’s decision and will continue to support them and our community in accessing opportunities.”

Refusal means the college will be denied access to HE public grant and student support funding, cannot recruit international students, nor apply for degree awarding powers.

Barking and Dagenham College has 12,500 students overall. Its HE cohort is around 300 students. A spokesperson said “only a small proportion” is affected by the OfS’ decision.

They added that the college will continue to offer higher education provision up to MBA level in partnership with its university partners.

Lapworth said the OfS is working with the college “in order for it to have the opportunity to apply to ‘teach out’ its current students”.

“Being granted designation for teach out would mean that continuing students, subject to individual eligibility, would be able to continue to access student support from the Student Loans Company,” she added.