Bloomsbury Institute wins appeal against Office for Students’ ‘landmark’ registration refusal

Friday 14th August 2020

Bloomsbury Institute has won its appeal against the Office for Students’ (OfS) decision to refuse its registration application.

The Court of Appeal has quashed the OfS’s decision and it must now reconsider Bloomsbury Institute’s application.

Today (14 August 2020) the Court published its full judgment.

Bloomsbury Institute won its appeal on the following grounds:

  1. The OfS staff who set the baselines/thresholds for continuation rates and progression into professional and managerial employment, that were applied to decide whether institutions should be registered, did not have the delegated authority to do so.
  2. That methodology should have been published and consulted upon.

Lord Justice Males, in the Court of Appeal’s judgment, writes that the setting of the baselines (referred to in the judgment as the Decision Making Guidance) ‘is a particularly striking example of a policy decision’ and as such should not have been delegated to the OfS’ Director of Competition and Registration.

“Once it is appreciated that the Guidance (or at any rate this aspect of it) embodied an important policy decision as to the way in which account would be taken of demographic factors, it becomes obvious in my judgment that this was a matter on which the OfS was required to consult, and which, once the decision was made, it was required to publish,” he adds.

John Fairhurst, Academic Principal and Managing Director of Bloomsbury Institute, said:

“This judgment is a validation of the professionalism and expertise of our staff and allows us to continue our mission to support students from diverse backgrounds who might otherwise not have the opportunity to enter higher education.

“Over 90% of our students come from disadvantaged backgrounds. Our goal is to make higher education an inclusive and open space, offering all people, from all backgrounds, the opportunity to define and pursue success through education.

“We are delighted on behalf of our hard-working students and staff and thank them for their support during a difficult period.

“We would also like to thank our legal team at Ronald Fletcher Baker LLP and Matrix Chambers, our validating partner the University of Northampton, Birkbeck College (University of London) and Advance HE for their support, and Sir David Melville for his contribution as an expert witness.”