Collaboration and competition - Adam Ferguson, Eversheds


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Collaboration and competition - Adam Ferguson, Eversheds

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Collaboration and competition - Adam Ferguson, Eversheds

  1. 1. Competition and Collaboration in the New Environment Assessing the Regulatory Perspective Adam Ferguson, Eversheds LLP 27 March 2014
  2. 2. The Office of Fair Trading’s Call for Evidence • Issued October 2013 to gain a better understanding of how choice and competition were working in sector • Sought views and information from interested parties • Published Report on 14th March 2014 • OFT and its successor (the Competition and Markets Authority) have a duty to seek to promote competition for the benefit of consumers
  3. 3. OFT Conclusions Key theme Conclusion Informed student choice Good deal of information, but some gaps (e.g. employment prospects) and scope for better integration (e.g. between Unistats and UCAS websites) Relationship between students and institutions Concern that HEIs may be failing to meet legal obligations under consumer law to make terms accessible and fair. CMA invited to undertake compliance review. Level and nature of competition No complaints or evidence of collusion in respect to fee setting. Perceived tension between competition law and collaboration – but not serious enough warrant specific guidance. Complaints about restrictions on teaching institutions did not warrant investigation. The regulatory framework Complex system of regulation at odds with system based on student choice. Lack of competitive neutrality and an exit regime. CMA to engage with government on reform.
  4. 4. Level and Nature of Competition – OFT findings • Competition between HEIs increasing: – reduced direct funding – tuition fee cap increase – relaxation of limits on student recruitment – entry by alternative providers • Scope for more competition – limited information on quality – lack of a level playing field – exit regime needed
  5. 5. Collaboration and competition law • OFT acknowledges collaboration can benefit students (e.g. benchmarking, academic partnerships, sharing facilities and joint procurement) • Competition law regime permits arrangements that may reduce competition if there are countervailing benefits • Concerns raised about institutions not pursuing collaboration because of fears about breaching competition law • No specific examples that would merit separate guidance, but evidence of a lack of familiarity with the rules
  6. 6. So where does this leave us?
  7. 7. The collaboration continuum
  8. 8. Future CMA engagement “The [CMA] Board was updated on the findings of the recent call for information. The Board had a broad ranging discussion about this market. It agreed that this is an important market and the CMA shall maintain engagement with the sector in a focussed way to secure achievable goals.” CMA Board Minutes, 13 February 2014
  9. 9. © EVERSHEDS LLP 2013. Eversheds LLP is a limited liability partnership.
  10. 10. © EVERSHEDS LLP 2013. Eversheds LLP is a limited liability partnership.