Office for Students loses court case over refusing provider admission to higher education register

The Office for Students has lost a Court of Appeal case over its decision to refuse a provider admission to its register of English higher education providers. 

The decision to refuse Bloomsbury Institute meant it was denied access to HE public grant and student support funding, could not recruit international students, nor apply for degree awarding powers. 

The Office for Students (OfS) justified its original decision to refuse admission as it argued Bloomsbury had not performed well enough in its continuation rates, meaning how many students progress from year one to year two of their course, or the rate of students’ progression into professional employment or post-graduate study. 

Yet last month the Court of Appeal quashed that decision, and today the three judges’ full judgement has been published, saying the OfS staff who set the thresholds for continuation and progression rates did not have the delegated authority to do so. 

Furthermore, that methodology should have been published and consulted upon. 

An OfS spokesperson said: “The judgement raises important public interest issues for the OfS and other regulators and public bodies.  

“We are considering the implications of the judgement and our next steps.” 

John Fairhurst, academic principal and managing director of the Bloomsbury Institute, said the judgment “is a validation of the professionalism and expertise of our staff and allows us to continue our mission to support students from diverse backgrounds who might otherwise not have the opportunity to enter higher education. 

“Over 90 per cent of our students come from disadvantaged backgrounds. Our goal is to make higher education an inclusive and open space, offering all people, from all backgrounds, the opportunity to define and pursue success through education. 

“We are delighted on behalf of our hard-working students and staff and thank them for their support during a difficult period.”