New national representative body for independent higher education providers  

Today sees the launch of the new national representative body for independent providers of higher education, professional training and pathways in the UK, Independent Higher Education. Previously known as Study UK, our organisation is re-launching at a time of significant change for higher education providers across the country.

Higher education in independent universities and colleges plays an integral role in our communities, offering innovative and high-quality opportunities to students and employers. Recent figures from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) show that many independent providers play a vital role in widening participation in higher education, educating more students from BME and lower income backgrounds, as well as more mature learners, than traditional universities.

In light of the government’s recent HE White Paper and the Higher Education and Research Bill, which recognise the crucial contributions made by high-quality independent higher education providers, it is more important than ever for the unique interests of these institutions to be represented by a central body which can provide a strong voice for the sector. Independent Higher Education will fill this essential role, working to promote, support and enhance the independent sector through close collaboration with our members, other HE sector bodies and government.

By lobbying for positive reforms to the regulatory and operating environment we aim to boost positive competition and promote good practice, in order to raise standards across the whole higher education sector. The modernising reforms in the White Paper will facilitate the entrance to the sector of new and innovative challenger institutions. The launch of Independent Higher Education provides an excellent opportunity for relevant policy recommendations to be channelled to government through a single representative body for independent providers.

Alexander Proudfoot, Chief Executive of Independent Higher Education, said:

“Independent Higher Education has a clear purpose and a vital role as the representative body for independent and alternative providers, which have become such an important part of the UK’s high-quality higher education provision.

“We will advise the government under its new leadership to protect and enhance the flexibility of independent providers so as to ensure that they continue to be the positive force for social mobility they have become.”

Professor Philip Wilson, Chair of Independent Higher Education, and Provost and Chief Executive of UCFB, said:

“Having welcomed the plans for the English higher education sector outlined in the government’s White Paper earlier this year, we believe that it is crucial for the interests of independent and innovative providers to be promoted by a single representative body such as Independent Higher Education.

“The White Paper reforms will leave our HE sector better able to meet the needs of today’s students by establishing a fair and competitive framework for new and existing providers. We will work with government to ensure that the voices of our members are heard during these times of change, with the ultimate goal of raising overall standards in the sector and helping the UK to remain a world leader in excellent higher education.”  


  • Independent Higher Education (formerly Study UK) is the UK membership organisation and national representative body for independent providers of higher education, professional training and pathways.
  • On 13th July 2016