UK: Universities could be bought 'in six months'

A private equity firm or private higher education provider will buy a UK university in whole or part "within the next six months", according to a legal expert. The prediction by Glynne Stanfield, a partner in the education group Eversheds, came as government documents revealed that a US private equity firm, Warburg Pincus, had twice met with David Willetts, the universities and science minister, writes John Morgan for Times Higher Education.

Stanfield highlighted the government's technical consultation on the recent white paper proposals, which closes on 27 October. The consultation document repeats a passage from the white paper: "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." Stanfield said private equity firms or 'trade buyers' (established private higher education providers) could buy out a university in its entirety and thus gain its degree-awarding powers.
Full report on the Times Higher Education site


Several years ago I proposed to a conference in Australia that two major Australian universities should merge and then float on the Australian Stock Exchange. The paper is published here.

The university would not be owned by private equity companies or Goldman Sachs. It would be mostly owned by its graduates. Academic freedom would be much better guarded by this arrangement. There is basically none under the present arrangement.

Giles Pickford, Wollongong