Universities need to examine the value-for-money of their courses

Universities Minister Sam Gyimah has called on higher education institutes to examine the value offered by all courses.

Speaking at the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) conference Sam Gyimah said there are courses on offer that do not lead to rewarding careers and that all students deserve an excellent university experience.

The Minister was commenting on a new publication by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), commissioned by the Department for Education, which confirms a vast difference in earnings potential for graduates – emphasising the fact that where and what you study really matters and can significantly affect future earnings and career prospects.

The IFS analysis shows that women who study one of the bottom 100 courses have earnings up to 64 per cent (approximately £17,000) less than the average degree after graduation. For men, it can be up to 67 per cent (approximately £21,000).

The Minister challenged universities to review their offer to students. He said: “The clutch of underperforming degrees is a problem for students – it is likely they include many of the courses whose students feel they are not getting value for money.

“I believe mass participation in higher education is here to stay and is key to our economic future. But for this vision to be realised in full, universities need to focus relentlessly on value for money.

The government has already introduced a number of measures to increase transparency in higher education including The Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework (TEF) to shine a light on standards of teaching at our universities.

It is going further than ever before by requiring all universities to publish applications, offers and acceptance rates broken down by gender, ethnicity and socio-economic background.

The Office for Students (OfS) is also playing a vital role championing the interests of students, promoting choice and helping to ensure that they are receiving a good deal for their investment in higher education.

In the coming weeks, Sam Gyimah will launch an Open Data competition allowing tech companies and coders to use government data on universities to help students decide where to apply.

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