Competition law and public services: insights from the OFT report into higher education – Competition Bulletin from Blackstone Chambers

Posted October 28th, 2014 in competition, education, news, reports, universities by sally

‘Recent public sector reforms have relied on choice and competition to increase the quality and quantity of service provision, whilst also controlling cost, through a programme known as Open Public Services. The use of choice and competition gives rise to public service markets, and ensuring that these markets function effectively is one of the Competition and Markets Authority’s declared objectives. Higher education constitutes one of the larger public service markets, and to understand how the market for undergraduate education in England functions, in October 2013, the OFT launched a Call For Information. Amongst other things, the OFT wished to consider whether it was plausible for universities to have arrived at a uniform fee for all their undergraduate courses without colluding, and whether the way prospective undergraduates apply for university places could harm competition between institutions, to the detriment of students. The OFT’s higher education report, published in March 2014, provides useful insights into the role of competition law in public service markets and of the challenges of apply competition law in public service markets.’

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Competition Bulletin from Blackstone Chambers, 27th October 2014