• HEPI number 90

In this HEPI paper, two authors with considerable expertise in evaluating higher education systems around the world assess higher education institutions that are not funded directly by taxpayers – known in the UK as alternative providers.

Since the start of the century, alternative providers have been growing rapidly. This raises a number of important policy questions on access, quality and outcomes.

This pamphlet:

  • assesses the current state of play;
  • looks at the lessons from the USA and Australia; and
  • makes some policy recommendations for the future.

It rejects the overly optimistic idea that alternative providers are always beneficial and the overly pessimistic that they always cause problems. Instead, it provides a more considered and useful critique and calls for regulation to respond as the higher education sector continues to evolve.