Special administration regime for the insolvency of higher education institutions

There is a call to action to the government to give further consideration to a special administration regime for the insolvency of higher education institutions along the same lines as already exists for further education and social housing, in light of the financial difficulties some universities are facing with coronavirus and the likely impact of Brexit.

Both the regimes for further education and social housing differ from the standard insolvency administration regime in that they include additional objectives. In the case of further education there is a special objective of avoiding or minimising disruptions to studies of existing students, and in the case of social housing there is an objective to keep social housing in the regulated sector.  If there was such a regime for higher education, it may allow a more holistic approach to winding down an institution if it is no longer financially viable. The recent consultation by the Office for Students on Student Protection Plans has at its forefront that students are secured and or guaranteed continuity of learning in the event that an institution has to close its doors.  Whilst this protects the students, an institution is more than just its students – the significance of its people, estates, contribution to the local communities and wider economy should not be overlooked and there are regimes available that could make a difference.