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Facebook could hand out degrees following government university shake up

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By Rebecca Stewart, Trends Editor

May 16, 2016 | 2 min read

If proposed reforms to the UK's education system go ahead, companies like Facebook and Google could set up their own academic institutions and hand out degrees to students in the UK.

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An official paper from the department for business, innovation and skills submitted by universities minister Jo Johnson has suggested a series of educational reforms in the UK.

As well as recommending a raise of the current £9,000 tuition fee for English students in line with inflation at "high-scoring" institutions, the paper also hints that there is room for non-traditional higher education outfits.

These "challenger" establishments would open up the UK's university sector to competition, and effectively allow organisations such as Facebook, Microsoft or Google to equip people with degrees.

"We want a globally competitive market that supports diversity, where anyone who demonstrates they have the potential to offer excellent teaching and clears our high quality bar can compete on a level playing field," reads the 'Success As A Knowledge Economy' report.

"If we place too much emphasis on whether a provider has a long established track record, this by definition will favour incumbents, and risks shutting out high quality and credible new institutions."

It remains to be seen whether firms like Facebook will want to take advantage of the proposals, but government ministers have hinted that interest among private firms would be high.

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