Government plans to crack down on ‘rip-off’ university courses

Students and taxpayers will be better protected against degree courses that have high drop-out rates, and leave young people with poor pay and high debts, the Prime Minister and education secretary have announced.

Under the plans, the Office for Students (OfS) will be asked to limit the number of students universities can recruit into courses that are failing to deliver good outcomes for students.

The Department for Education said that a minority of university courses leave students saddled with debt, low earnings and faced with poor job prospects. 

The department said it wants to make the system fairer for students, but also for taxpayers, who DfE says make huge invest in higher education and are liable for billions of pounds in unrecovered tuition fees if graduate earnings are low.

Figures from the OfS show that nearly three in ten graduates do not progress into highly skilled jobs or further study 15 months after graduating. The Institute for Fiscal Studies also estimates that one in five graduates would be better off financially if they had not gone to university.

The government said that young people are encouraged to choose the path that is right for them, from a university degree to an apprenticeship.

As part of the announcements, the government will also reduce the maximum fee that universities can charge for classroom-based foundation year courses to £5, 760 – down from £9, 250 currently.

These are an additional year of study designed to help prepare students for degrees with specific entry requirements or knowledge, such as in medicine and veterinary sciences. Research suggests too many people are encouraged to take a foundation year in some subjects like business where it is not necessary.  

The Office for Students will also continue work to make it easier for students to assess the quality of each university course, including its earnings potential, so that they can make the most informed decision about where and what to study. 

The Department for Education said it is asking the Office for Students to ensure that courses which fail to deliver good earnings are subject to stricter controls.

Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, said: “The UK is home to some of the best universities in the world and studying for a degree can be immensely rewarding. 

“But too many young people are being sold a false dream and end up doing a poor-quality course at the taxpayers’ expense that doesn’t offer the prospect of a decent job at the end of it. 

“That is why we are taking action to crack down on rip-off university courses, while boosting skills training and apprenticeships provision. 

“This will help more young people to choose the path that is right to help them reach their potential and grow our economy”. 

Education secretary, Gillian Keegan, said: “Students and taxpayers rightly expect value for money and a good return on the significant financial investment they make in higher education.  

“These new measures will crack down on higher education providers that continue to offer poor quality courses and send a clear signal that we will not allow students to be sold a false promise. 

“Wherever they choose to study, it is vital students can gain the skills needed to get great jobs and succeed – supporting the Prime Minister’s priority to grow our economy.”

The government said that plans to expand UCAS to allow students to apply for apprenticeships alongside traditional degree have also been announced so thousands more young people can benefit from a wider choice of high-quality options.

You may also like...