Companies 'should run poor colleges'

Private firms should be brought in to take over low performing universities, says a study by a Labour MP.

Ministers should also consider giving students invoices to show them the true cost of their education, according to the report by Ian Pearson, MP for Dudley South.

Writing in a report for the Social Market Foundation, Dr Pearson said universities required radical reform to compete in the international economy. League tables should be expanded to include employment rates and graduate salaries, while thought should be given to voucher schemes and charging. The report argues that the British economy was being held back by academics' unwillingness to become involved in links with industry.

Dr Pearson, a visiting fellow at Warwick University, said Britain's élite universities "are way off the pace compared with the US when it comes to developing links with business. Universities need to get with the global programme and change their culture. Stuffy, traditional and non-competitive with poor links to the business world is how the typical American undergraduate sees Britain's élite universities."

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