Regent College Higher Education is part of the north-west London based educational group, Regent Group.
Regent Group was founded in 2000 as an independent secondary school and sixth form college, known as Regent College and sited in Harrow.
The Group grew over the years expanding into supplementary education, additional secondary and sixth form provision, nursery provision and in 2010 establishedit’s Higher Education Division. It started with only a handful of students, students within our sixth form who wanted an alternative to a traditional university route, a course that would allow them to link theory to practice. However, with time, the division blossomed into the entity that it is today providing education to over 1,200 students on six Edexcel Higher National Diploma (HND) Business courses. We have a busy site with a team of management, administrative, support and teaching staff that work very well with one another. We are also most fortunate to have some very experienced and respected individuals within our team including our Principal, Dr Michael Pinfold, former Head of Collaborative Provision at the University of Gloucestershire and our Director of Quality Enhancement, Professor Donald Pennington, previously pro-vice chancellor at the University of Coventry and Dr Paul Hartley, former vice chancellor at Gloucestershire, who acts as an advisor for our HE division.
As part of this, to accommodate our large student body, there has been significant investment in improving the estate, and offering a high-class learning environment for students engaged in studying for their disciplines as the Group obtained and fitted out a new building in the bustling area of Wembley Park. The ethos of our institution encourages students to be independent learners within a supportive atmosphere and a bespoke environment, with all academic requirements being provided, and a friendly, welcoming and supportive team of tutors and administrators on hand. We see the students as stakeholders, and, as such students are actively encouraged to make their views known. We promote a forward-looking and inclusive environment, and our aim is to ensure that everyone involved with higher education is involved in decision-making processes, is accountable, and is valued. Indeed at our most recent Review for Educational Oversight by the Quality Assurance Agency, we were praised, for, ‘the effective dissemination of College actions in response to student requests’ and during our very recent Standards Verifier visit Pearson recorded that, ‘Communication between tutors and learners is first class.’ We feel that we have, without question, met the objectives laid out in the 2011 White Paper, ‘Students at the Heart of the System.’
External measures of success, on sector-wide and nationally-based platforms, have provided us with the opportunity to promote the College in a positive way to a wider audience. The outcome of the UK Quality Assurance Agency’s Review for Educational Oversight confirmed that the College reaches nationally prescribed benchmarks for educational delivery, pronouncing judgements of ‘Confidence’ in Regent College’s management of academic standards for which it is responsible, ‘Confidence’ in in Regent College’s management and enhancement of the quality of learning opportunities academic standards, and that ‘Reliance’ can be placed on the accuracy and completeness of the information that Regent College is responsible for publishing about itself and the programmes it delivers. These outcomes ensure that our reputation is reported as of the highest calibre to the higher education sector as a whole, and also to the public at large; there are no concerns about the ways in which we are operating, and in academic terms we reach, and at times exceed, required standards.
Regent College is also a Tier 4 licence holder and we have just heard that our Highly Trusted Sponsor status will be renewed for yet another year. We have also very recently achieved excellent outcomes from both the Annual Monitoring Review, in which we were given the highest category of judgement for all eight review areas and the Standards Verification process, of our awarding body Pearson/Edexcel. Comments within these reports included, ‘This is
a very well-run college with very effective systems in place,’ and, ‘It has a highly motivated and well qualified team and is supported by good resources.’ Both of these measures further enhance our growing reputation as a reliable and consistent provider of higher education to a varied and growing student constituency. We have been buoyed by these successes, and are considering expanding the provision into new subject areas and are also moving into further education opportunities.
This external confirmation of our commitment to standards seems especially relevant at a time when so-called ‘alternative providers,’ i.e. the private providers within the higher education sector, are undoubtedly under the spotlight as the government asks questions of the standard of provision in institutions such as ours and the amount of public funds directed towards alternative providers, and cases of alleged mis-use of these funds come to light. We responded to market requirements and achieved high standards in a very difficult market.
Higher education at Regent operates across several media, from the spoken word to the interactive virtual learning environment, from written instructions to an engaging website, and at all times the Senior Management Team of Regent Group has kept oversight of how these operations have come into being and where responsibilities lie for individuals involved. There is a pro-active staff development policy which encourages all staff members to feel as though they belong and contribute to a dynamic enterprise, which is geared to embrace the rigours and demands of the future. We are well-appraised of the issues that will develop across the sector as a whole, and we forward-plan responses to shifts in education policies that come from within sector or from government itself. We are active in contributing to debate on a national scale, avail ourselves of conference dates and meetings that are to our advantage, and incorporate the needs of the higher education division within a broader vision.
We tell our students when they enrol: The End of Education is Character. We are passionate to ensure that our own character is seen and judged as of the highest standard, fair, inclusive, and directed towards continuous improvement and achievement.
Not only do we pride ourselves on a high standard of academic provision however, but we take great delight in observing our students as they progress through the course and the fruits of our tuition bear labour. As an example, some of our students, who are also self-employed, have given instances of putting into practice the theories that they are learning on the course into their own businesses, and some have sought patents for inventions that they have made after learning about the patenting process within college classes. This is very encouraging for the teaching team to see that the students are soaking up the knowledge and putting it into good use, which is of course the main aim of furthering one’s education. We are also proud of our diverse student body; whilst we have youngsters of 18 within the College, a great number of our students are much older, with their own families, and are taking a step back into education to try and improve their educational portfolio and learn new skills to make themselves more employable or allow them to move another step up the career ladder. Lord Browne asked providers to widen participation and this is certainly one goal that Regent has met.
We are also trying to forge links between the local community and the College. In the autumn of 2013, Regent invited the then Mayor of Brent, Bobby Thomas, to come and open our new building in Wembley Park. We have also teamed up with the new Brent public library team and library staff have been to the College to guide our students on the use of the facilities and many of our students have been over with our tutor team for a guided tour. We hope to try and forge greater links with the local community during the forthcoming academic year.
Regent College Higher Education is now looking to the future. We are currently in the middle of HEFCE’s re-designation process and hoping to be able to take another 634 new students during the 2014/2015 academic year onto our HND in Business courses. At present, without advertising, we already have over 170 students on our waiting list for a place on one of our courses next year. We can only conclude that Regent has become a beacon of excellence, drawing in students from far and wide.
Further, Regent College does its best to not only meet but to surpass governmental requirements. One such example, is our corporate governance where we are taking measures such as an internal audit function, establishing audit committees and remuneration committees,, a practice usually carried out by blue-chip companies as a corporate governance initiative.
When we were visited by our Edexcel Regional Quality Manager, he decided he would randomly sound out some of the students about their experiences at the College; he came back a little later and told us, ‘I had a good chat with a number of your students and I asked them what the worst thing about the College was. They told me that the thing that bothered them the most here was the lack of student parking. If your students are telling you that’s the worst thing about the College, then you know you’re doing a pretty good job’ and that, for us, sums it up…