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What is the regulator for?

Can the Office for Students be a friend both to the government and to universities?

Yesterday, Michael Barber, chairman of the Office for Students, waded into the angst-ridden atmosphere created by the i newspaper’s report that three universities are “on the verge of bankruptcy”. Writing in The Daily Telegraph (perhaps an odd choice for a message ostensibly about the long-term interests of students), Barber made it clear that the OfS would not be bailing out any university that found itself in financial difficulties.

The message was unequivocal: universities must become better at managing their affairs. Financial sustainability is a condition of registration with the OfS and thus a necessity for an institution wanting to access the student loan book. Barber also said that in the event of institutional failure, students would be protected either through compensation or by being able to “complete their studies where they want”. Fiona McIntyre reports on Barber’s intervention.

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