The United Kingdom has often been at the forefront of privatization, and it has taken another step in that direction. Private businesses can now deliver their own diplomas in lieu of end of studies diplomas typically delivered by state sanctioned schools (A-Level). Of course, such businesses need to be accredited as well, and the first batch includes a low cost airline (FlyBe), a railway company (Network Rail) and McDonald's. Yes, McDonald's.
The experience you accumulate from flipping burgers to managing a shift can now count towards a diploma that is supposed to open the doors to a university education. That in itself is not new, as some universities are willing to accept an appropriate work experience as a replacement for a high school degree (in US terms). The difference here is that degrees are supposed to be transferable. An accredited A-Level degree is an A-Level degree, whether it is from Eton or McDonald's. Universities are not so sure, however, claiming that "McQualifications" have a much too narrow focus and are academically not sufficiently rigorous.
This brings us closer to the US situations, where universities are essentially free to choose whatever they want for admission criteria, and there is plenty of evidence that a (reputable and good) high school diploma is only a minor part for admission to, say, Ivy League schools. Isn't public service, leadership and sports achievement that potential students are suppose to exhibit essentially the same as the hands-on experience that McDonald's and others would document?
I suppose the point of the experience in the United Kingdom is the break the monopoly educational institutions have in delivering diplomas. Documenting other aspects of human capital that pure academic work is certainly of interest, much like apprenticeship has done for centuries in Germanic countries. But can recommendation letters from employers not do the same? And how can one distinguish the quality of diplomas across the soon numerous providers? In no time, private entrepreneurship will yield a firm that will provide a uniform test, call it SAT, based on some rigid and easy to verify criteria. This new test will then for all practical purposes replace the plethora of diplomas that have themselves replaced the uniform diploma the government was providing before. Would then anything have changed, except some confusion? And as the United States show, would this not yield a private monopoly instead of a public one? Have we really gained?