Greenwich School of Management (GSM), based in Greenwhich and Greenford, is one of the biggest private higher education providers in England, and has received £152 million in public money via tuition fee loans in the six years to 2017. It has announced on 31st July that it had entered administration and would cease teaching at the end of September.
The Office for Students (OfS), a public body acting as the regulator and competition authority for the higher education sector in England, wrote to GSM on 11 July to say that it was provisionally intending to refuse the college’s application for the register of providers – thus cutting off access to public Student Loans Company funding. GSM attempted to find a new owner, but this was “not possible to achieve“, and so it entered in to administration. The college has since revealed it will not be able to “recruit and retain sufficient numbers of students to generate enough revenue to be sustainable“.
The for-profit college is owned by a private equity company and ran courses focusing on business, with the degree courses being validated by the University of Plymouth. It is one of many private providers promoting a wider market in higher education. Its collapse is set to raise questions about the success of such commercialisation of the higher education sector. It wasn’t a university, and it wasn’t regulated by the higher education watchdog, the OfS. But a spokesman for the OfS said
[Its] overarching priority is to ensure that students are able to complete their studies.
We understand that some students who are nearing the end of their studies will be able to stay at GSM but it is likely that most will need to transfer to another higher education provider.
The OfS says in 2017-18 the college had 5,440 students, with the latest figures showing 3,500. A statement from GSM London says that:
Discussions are under way with other higher education providers to identify alternative courses for our students and we will be supporting them in the application process.
247 jobs have now been placed at risk. The college says it could not remain financially stable and had been unable to find a buyer to ensure its “longer-term future“. It says it will teach until September – which for some courses will be the end of term – ahead of an “orderly wind-down and closure of the college“. A Department for Education spokeswoman said:
Whilst the vast majority of institutions are in good financial health, the Department for Education and the Office for Students have been clear that neither will bail out failing providers.