Under proposed changes to the UK’s university education system, companies such as Google and Facebook could be allowed to set up their own academic institutions in the country capable of awarding degrees.

The paper, called Success As A Knowledge Economy, is aimed at reforming further education in the UK, which would also include a raise in the current £9,000 tuition fees in line with inflation from next year.

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However, as part of the overall approach, the paper says that reforms to encourage the setting up of ‘challenger institutions’ (ie. education centers that don’t fall within the well-established norms) should go ahead in order to help companies ensure they have suitably skilled workers, as well as providing people with an education.

The report says:

There is no compelling reason for incumbents to be protected from high quality competition. We want a globally competitive market that supports diversity, where anyone who demonstrates they have the potential to offer excellent teaching and clears our high quality bar can compete on a level playing field. If we place too much emphasis on whether a provider has a long established track record, this by definition will favour incumbents, and risks shutting out high quality and credible new institutions.

Whether or not companies like Facebook and Google will want to take this step remains to be seen – input from the companies wasn’t included in the report and we’re yet to get a response to our own questions on the subject, but government ministers seem to think that interest from private companies could be strong and would potentially allow for a wider pool of people to access higher education in Britain.

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