Government to ‘crack down’ on ‘scam’ university courses – which ones could be at risk? | UK News

The government has said it wants there to be a cap on the number of students studying so-called ‘scam’ college degrees.

Limits will be placed on courses that have high dropout rates or a low proportion of graduates gaining professional employment.

As part of the measures, the maximum fee that can be charged for basic classroom courses will also be reduced to £5,760, from £9,250 previously.

The plans, announced by Education Secretary Gillian Keegan, are part of the government’s response to the Augar review, set by Theresa May in 2017.

Among the report’s recommendations – which also included lower tuition fees and more funding for continuing education – was a goal to reduce the number of “low-value” courses leaving students with poor job prospects.

According to the plans, the Office for Students (OfS) will be asked to limit the number of students that universities can recruit for courses that do not perform well for graduates.

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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 hugely rewarding.

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

“That is why we are taking measures to crack down on fraudulent university training, while strengthening qualifying training and the apprenticeship offer.

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

Which courses could be at risk?

The government has yet to specify which courses it defines as “low value” and which will have student numbers limited by the Student Office.

Figures released on July 6 by the Longitudinal Educational Outcomes (LEO) Database – which links education data to employment data – suggested which subjects had the highest employment rates and wages. highest and lowest in the 2020-2021 tax year.

Among the higher education institutions (HEIs) analyzed, undergraduate graduates in languages ​​and area studies, and creative arts and design, had the lowest median proportions of sustained employment, tertiary education or both.

Meanwhile, graduates in nursing and midwifery, as well as medicine and dentistry, had the highest median proportions.

Other data from LEO suggests that five years after graduating from UK HEIs, medicine and dentistry had a median graduate income of £52,900, while performing arts rose at £21,200.

These results echo those recommended by the Augar study, which found that men with degrees in creative arts, English and philosophy earn less than their peers who did not graduate.

Importantly, some subjects showed greater variations in earnings – for example, IT had a difference of £61,900 between its highest and lowest earnings.

This is likely due to labor market availability and the use of standardized wages in some sectors, LEO reported.

Despite the data’s suggestions, Education Minister Robert Halfon denied the government’s cap was an attack on arts and humanities courses.

“We’re not saying that particular arts lessons will have limits,” he said during a speech on Times Radio on Monday.

“It may be that in some universities there are arts courses that lead to good jobs.

“It’s only courses in universities, whatever they are, that lead to poor results – whether it’s continuing, completing courses or not getting good qualified jobs at the end – these courses will be subject to recruitment limits by the Office for Students.”

Data released in March 2019 by the Higher Education Statistics Agency revealed the degrees with the highest non-continuation rate among first degree entrants to UK HEIs.

He suggested that the five highest courses for dropout rates included: computer science – 9.8%; commercial and administrative studies – 7.4%; engineering and technology – 7.2%; mass communication & documentation – 7.2%; and creative arts and design – 7.2%.

In comparison, medical, dental and veterinary science students had the lowest dropout rate at 1.5%.

The term non-prosecution is defined as a student failing to achieve the qualification they were originally aiming for. This does not take into account course changes or students leaving within the first 50 days of the start of the course.

But opposition MPs said the measures amounted to an “aspiration ceiling” that would restrict young people’s choice.

Shadow education secretary Bridget Phillipson said the plans were “simply an attack on the aspirations of young people and their families by a government that wants to strengthen the class ceiling, not smash it”.

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Munira Wilson, education spokesman for the Liberal Democrats, accused the Prime Minister of being ‘so out of ideas that he unearthed a new version of a policy the Tories announced and then twice unannounced “.

She added: “Universities don’t want that. It’s an aspirational ceiling, which makes it harder for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to continue their education.”

But Sir Philip Augar, the former chairman of the post-18 education and funding review, welcomed the policy.

He told Sky News that while the OfS already has the power to impose fines and regulations on underperforming universities and courses, the plan announced today “puts some teeth into it and that means that they can actually restrict the number of people recruited into these courses. “.

He added: “Hopefully there’s some kind of constructive look at this and it’s a stick that’s here that never really needs to be used.”

Susan Lapworth, Chief Executive of OfS, said: “Students from all backgrounds have a right to expect high quality education in courses that lead to good results after graduation.

“We know that many universities and colleges routinely offer this to their students.

“But where this is not the case, it is important that the OfS, as the independent regulator of higher education in England, can step in to protect the interests of students and taxpayers.

“We look forward to continuing our work on these important issues.”

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