Higher education white paper published.

Summary: Proposals include quality watchdog and new degree awarding powers.

‘A new White Paper, titled Success as a Knowledge Economy, revealed: 

  • a new Office for Students watchdog to police quality in the sector
  • confirmation of an excellence framework to provide students with information on quality before they apply to begin courses
  • new universities will find it easier to gain degree-giving powers, though stringent quality assurances will need to be given
  • new providers will be encouraged to be “innovative and flexible” in their approach to teaching
  • and a “transparency revolution” requiring all universities to publish data on how well students from ethnic and minority backgrounds fair [sic] in the offer, application and acceptance stages’ – Huffington Post

‘Institutions that score highly in terms of teaching quality will be able to raise their annual tuition fees above the maximum £9,000 – a move that is expected to spark indignation among higher education groups, who say students are already saddled with enormous debts.

Government ministers say the new measures are designed to help tackle the skills shortfall in some employment sectors and encourage universities to provide a higher quality of teaching. But Sorana Vieru, National Unions of Students (NUS) vice president for higher education, said students will “understandably be outraged” at plans to increase fees.’ - Independent

‘The link between universities’ performance in the teaching excellence framework and the tuition fees that they can charge has been retained in the higher education White Paper, but the system is set to be phased in more slowly in response to sector concerns.

The second year of the TEF is now proposed as a pilot exercise, with all institutions that volunteer to participate and meet basic standards being permitted to increase their fees in line with inflation.

This approach would probably result in widespread inflationary increases in tuition fees in 2017-18 (based on the results of Quality Assurance Agency reviews) and 2018-19, with any widespread variation in fees unlikely to emerge until September 2019.’ – Times Higher Education

‘The white paper will describe how approved challenger institutions – potentially including private, for-profit colleges as well as existing further education providers – could rapidly mint their own graduates, under a radical proposal for them to be granted “provisional” powers during their first three years of operation.

Approved new providers could graduate their first cohort of students under their own degrees within two years, and six years after opening could be awarded full university status complete with royal charter – a process that has previously taken decades.’ - Guardian

‘For the first time, Ucas, the university admissions service, will make available application and offer rates, broken down by social class, gender and ethnicity. 

The paper warns that is “unacceptable” that those from the most advantaged backgrounds are six times more likely to go to top universities. 

A new Office for Students will play a role in forcing institutions to focus on 'access and participation'. 

On Sunday sources said the Queen's speech will include a Higher Education bill which will put forward the legislation for the white paper to be implemented.’ - Telegraph

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