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Individual degree courses to be rated gold, silver or bronze

The new scheme promises to expose inefficacious courses

The controversies about UK higher education, especially with the recent tuition fees increase and after the news that many of them pay their senior managers very high salaries, calls for more information and regulation about the quality and transparency that universities offer. A new system is to be launched by 2020, which aims to classify each subject offered with either gold, silver or bronze. According to the Department for Education, as well as a gold, silver or bronze scheme, further details about the degree will be available such as post-degree employment prospects, potential earnings, and dropout rates.

The ranking is the next phase built on the new ranking system for universities overall, where the University of Portsmouth was awarded gold. This is also supported by the data from the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), which assesses universities on a range of measures including student satisfaction and what students do after they graduate. Nevertheless, some top universities protested the TEF’s last ranking procedure as inappropriate after failing to achieve the highest award.

“In the age of the student, universities will no longer be able to hide if their teaching quality is not up to the world-class standard that we expect”

A spokesman from the Department of Education stated the rating system would allow students to make “consumer-style comparisons of degree courses” and “this will shine a light on poor quality teaching and ensure that standards are driven upwards.” The great expense that each student has to pay for a degree, normally a surplus of over £30,000, has to be done with caution. In this way hopefully potential undergraduates can compare different courses from different universities with more certainty, and any poor-quality teaching by universities will be exposed.

Sam Gyimah, the new universities minister, said: “Prospective students deserve to know which courses deliver great teaching and great outcomes, and which ones are lagging behind. In the age of the student, universities will no longer be able to hide if their teaching quality is not up to the world-class standard that we expect. The new subject-level TEF will give students more information about that than ever before, allowing them to drill down and compare universities by subject. This will level the international playing field to help applicants make better choices, and ensure that more students get the value for money they deserve from higher education”.

The award will first be piloted by fifty universities as a test and should be available on the internet in websites through the government and the respective universities. A consultation on the way the new framework will operate is being launched and will last ten weeks.