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The Government’s decision to cut university funding has had a profound impact on the higher education sector.
The policy change, linked with several regulatory changes governing this sector, has meant quintessential education lawyers such as Gary Attle are becoming even more sought after. The 13 per cent revenue growth rate for Mills & Reeve’s university business group, which is headed by Attle, is a good testimony.
With the removal of government funding, finance has become atop issue facing universities over the past year. Attle has been spearheading new forms of finance arrangements for his clients. A prime exemple is his role advising long-standing client theUniversity of Cambridge on its groundbreaking bonds issuance, which raised £350m. His in-depth understanding of the complexities of university organisations and their regulatory framework was critical in getting the deal through.
Attle has also advised on a number of private finance initiatives in the sector, including acting for Aviva Commercial Finance in providing £184m senior debt to Universities Partnership Programme for a student accommodation project at the University of Reading.
Although the firm does not have overseas offices, Attle has been active in assisting UK universities’ international initiatives. He has recently worked with fellow partners to advise the UK Higher Education International Unit on the Science without Borders UK contract with Brazil. The scheme, which is worth £200m to the UK economy, will see up to 10,000 Brazilian students study in the UK over the next four years.
As Mills & Reeve puts increased strategic priority on the education sector in its 2015 business plan, there will be plenty more challenges in store for Attle.