The path that nurse education in the UK has taken since it moved into the higher education (HE) system in the early 1990s has been directly influenced, not only by Department of Health policy, but also by changes to the way in which HE is structured and managed. The White Paper Higher Education: Students at the Heart of the System (Department for Business Innovation and Skills, 2011a) outlined the coalition Government's plans to encourage better standards of teaching in HE and greater responsiveness to student experience. The reforms promote competition and contestability between HE institutions to attract students and recommend removing barriers for new providers to enter the market. The decision to introduce a strong business model for HE has a number of implications for nurse education, both in the way that it is delivered and how student nurses are positioned among their peers. There is a potential conflict of interest between the student as a source of income for the HE institution and the student nurse as a member of a professional organization dedicated to ensuring the safety of the public. The decision to make it easier for alternative providers to obtain degree awarding powers could also encourage providers to take greater ownership of healthcare qualifications in the future.