GSM London, one of London’s biggest private colleges, has announced that it would go into administration by the end of September after failing to recruit and retain students.
All classes at the private college, which offered undergraduate and postgraduate business courses at its Greenwich and Greenford campuses, will officially end by September, jeopardizing 247 jobs in the process.
The Office for Students (OFS), the official watchdog for universities, said there were 5,440 students at GSML for the school year 2017-18, and they currently have around 3,500 students, setting a loss of 2,000 in just a year.
The college said that it was because they were unable to “recruit and retain sufficient numbers of students.”
GSM was owned by a private equity firm as a result of the government’s attempt to create a market for higher education. Last spring of 2019, they decided to seek a new owner to ensure the college’s survival but failed to find a buyer.
“Unfortunately, a sale of GSM was not possible to achieve and, given the Board’s concerns over the future viability of the college, it became necessary to seek the protection afforded by a formal insolvency procedure,” according to a statement on the GSML website.
The Guardian called the shutdown a “blow to government attempts to open up the higher education sector to private providers.” The UK government recently began to promote privatization of higher education to encourage competition.
The University and College Union (UCU) pointed to the marketization of higher education and called it a “funding free-for-all” for private providers. These private providers enjoy the privilege of being under-regulated as they prioritize profit over the quality of education, noted the group representing university and college workers.
“We understand that this news will be worrying for the students and staff at GSM. We understand that some students who are nearing the end of their studies will be able to stay at GSM but it is likely that most will need to transfer to another higher education provider,” said an unnamed spokesperson from OFS.
Meanwhile, GSM, which has validated degrees from the University of Plymouth, announced that they are “working with a range of institutions” in order to help students transfer and finish their studies.