Universities, Colleges in England Offering Poor Quality Education to Face Restrictions & Fines

United Kingdom

The Office for Students (OfS), the independent regulator of higher education in England, which aims to ensure that students get a high-quality education, has recently published some numerical thresholds designed to target poor quality courses offered at some universities and colleges in England, which are affecting students’ outcomes.

According to OfS, universities and colleges that do not meet the requirements may face investigation, fines, and restrictions on their access to student loan funding, Erudera.com reports.

“These thresholds are designed to set a high bar which takes account of a university or college’s individual circumstances and maintains public confidence in the performance of individual universities and colleges and the higher education sector in England more generally,” the Office for Students noted in a press release.  

The regulator has proposed thresholds for full-time and part-time students. For full-time students in their first degree, it has proposed the following:

  • 80 percent of students to continue the into the second year of studies
  • 75 percent of students to complete their qualification
  • 60 percent of students to pursue further education or access professional employment

Higher and Further Education Minister Michelle Donelan said that UK’s university system is known as world-class, but there are “too many pockets of poor quality.”

“Whether it is giving students the face-to-face teaching they deserve or ensuring universities tackle drop-out rates and poor graduate outcomes, this Government will always fight for a fair deal for students,” Donelan added.

Meanwhile, the Chief Executive of the Office for Students, Nicola Dandridge, said that many universities and colleges in the UK offer quality courses, and the thresholds will not affect higher education institutions across the country that offer high-quality courses but will target those institutions providing poor quality courses, resulting in negative outcomes among students.

She said that poor quality courses which lead to poor student performance are unacceptable, and OfS will take action where students attend courses that offer few benefits to them.

Under these proposals for the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), higher education institutions in England will be evaluated on their undergraduate programs for a TEF award every four years, which would assess their impact on student experience and performance. According to OfS, institutions that meet the minimum requirements for quality will need to apply for a TEF award.

OfS announced that it has also set out plans to incentivize excellent teaching, learning, and student outcomes at higher education institutions that perform above the regulator’s minimum requirements.

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