A new white paper has been released this week that highlights how changes in higher education will make UK universities more accountable to students.
Graduates will soon be paying more than ever before towards the cost of their degrees, but the government believes its new proposals will improve their experiences as students, expand their choices and make universities more accountable than ever before.
Entitled Students at the Heart of the System, the white paper covers four broad areas: reforming funding, delivering a better student experience, enabling universities to increase social mobility and reducing regulation and removing barriers for new providers.
One of its key points is to promote consumer choice among potential students by giving them more information on which to base their decision-making. According to the paper, universities will have to share data on teaching hours and lecture sizes as well as the destinations of past graduates and their average starting salaries.
Other reforms put forward in the paper include undertaking a review into how university-industry collaboration can grow, also focusing on reversing the decline in sandwich courses and encouraging universities to engage actively with employers to accredit or ‘kitemark’ courses to indicate to students that they are valued by them. It is also offering opportunities for universities to change the number of students they take on.
“The government will reform the financing of higher education, promote a better student experience and foster social mobility. Our overall goal is a sector that is freed to respond in new ways to the needs of students,” says Universities Minister, David Willetts.
“Responding to student demand means enabling a greater diversity of provision. This may mean more higher education going on in a wider range of different settings, such as Further Education colleges and other alternative providers offering innovative types of course. We must move away from a world in which the number of students allocated to each university is determined in Whitehall. But universities will be under competitive pressure to provide better quality and at lower cost,” he notes.