New rating system for university courses: gold, silver and bronze
- March 15, 2018
- Posted by: Amelia Buckworth
- Category: Universities
With British universities charging UK and EU students up to £10 000 a year for tuition fees, ministers feel that higher education institutions need to be held accountable for the quality of their teaching. Prospective and current students have the right to know whether or not their money is going into bettering teaching methods and enhancing their future career prospects, hence the need for greater transparency.
As such, a new tool providing official data on teaching standards at fifty different universities is scheduled to go live in 2020. The tool will rate university courses as “gold”, “silver” or “bronze” by subject, leading on to a completely new ranking system. The idea is to map out the differences between comparable courses at different higher education institutions, focusing on teaching, career destinations, future earnings and drop-out rates, and using the existing “Teaching Excellence Framework” (TEF).
The research carried out by the Institute of Fiscal Studies and the University of Cambridge will serve as a basis for the information provided, and some statistics have already been released. However, the credibility of the data will ultimately rely on the new rating system’s ability to consider specific factors. For instance, universities largely recruit in their more or less affluent region, and this may skew statistics relating to career destinations and future earnings.
Student voices have made themselves heard through the National Union of Students (NUS), which challenged the methods used by the TEF to effectively measure teaching quality. Of course, universities having been categorised as “bronze” for their overall teaching quality last year have also questioned the credibility of the TEF, by highlighting that their own internal measurements of student satisfaction and teaching quality told an entirely different story. Ultimately, NUS’s opinion, as well as the upcoming independent review of university fees, will both play a determining role in the future success of the new rating system.
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