HE White Paper – hidden bomb
Here’s the predicted hidden bomb in the White Paper:
Simplifying the process for changing corporate status
4.35 Where higher education institutions want to change their legal status, it can be complex. Different rules apply to different types of institution. For example, a chartered corporation may need to have a private Act of Parliament passed to convert to a different legal form. It has been argued that it would be helpful to institutions to ease their ability to convert to a legal status of their choosing –for example, to make it easier for them to attract private investment.
4.36 Our consultation on a new regulatory framework will explore whether to implement legislative change to make the process of changing legal status easier. We would ensure that, as the assets of a university have been acquired over time, partly as a result of direct public funding, the wider public interest will be protected in any such change of status.
This consultation would allow the established, ‘public’ universities to change their corporate status so as to become, for example, companies limited by share or publicly limited companies. That is, allowing charitable higher education corporations to become profit-making entities.