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‘A joyful experience’

December 21, 2014

On Monday 15 December, the Public Accounts Committee held an evidence session into financial controls over student funding going to students at private colleges.

You can watch the video here – all two hours of it. I wasn’t in the room, but one who was provided this post’s title.

Present as witnesses were:

Martin Donnelly, Permanent Secretary, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills,

Mick Laverty, Chief Executive, Student Loans Company,

Madeleine Atkins, Chief Executive, Higher Education Funding Council for England,

Rod Bristow, President, UK and Core Markets, Pearson.

It was really all about Donnelly as the ‘accounting officer’ responsible for the cash involved, but Pearson’s representative, Bristow manages to unite the cross-party panel in incredulity when he outlines the language ‘recommendations’ his examination board specifies for entry to an undergraduate level qualification (from 4.48pm on the video clock).

It is probably hard to get a grasp on proceedings without having some knowledge of what’s been uncovered by journalists over the last year. Much of the evidence discussed in the session was unearthed by me and an overview of the general problems can be found in this piece for Times Higher Education.

The Chair of the Committee describes the whole affair as one of the worst scandals she’s seen at PAC but we still don’t have the full picture of the amount of money being spent per HND qualification achieved.



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