UK universities to determine whether courses are ‘low-value’

18 Jan 2022

Universities in the UK are now going to be looking further into determining whether their courses help students find jobs that contribute to the country’s culture or help the environment. If not, the courses may be ditched. The government has been piling the pressure on universities on England to deal with so-called ‘low-value’ degrees, with a promise to “crack down” on courses not seen to benefit students, says the Office for Students. So, how will these ‘low value’ courses be determined? Well, Universities UK (UKK) has unveiled a list of metrics which can be used by universities to decide whether or not their courses actually benefit students. 

What metrics will be looked at?
As well as using benchmarks such as student drop-out stats and the proportion of grads who find highly skilled jobs after uni, higher education institutions will also be looking at other factors such as whether the courses help students find work in the NHS and education. They’ll be looking at the number of grads finding jobs within “cultural establishments or occupations” and getting jobs “with a primary function of positive environmental activity”. Furthermore, student satisfaction rates regarding their courses will be considered, and whether or not they’re helping get people work in “high-growth” and “innovative” industries. A metric on “contribution to culture” could exclusively help universities to justify the continuation of creative arts courses, reports iNews.   

What the vice chancellors are saying
According to Professor Julia Buckingham, who chaired the group of vice chancellors which developed the framework: “Universities must be able to communicate why they offer the courses they do, and the value of those courses, to prospective students, employers and the public. Although UK universities have a strong track record of delivering high-quality courses which equip students with the knowledge, skills and attitudes needed to progress to rewarding careers, universities know there is a need to address public concerns about potentially low-value courses.” She went on to say: “This framework will help universities take a more consistent and transparent approach to annual course reviews and support them in taking decisive action should a course fall below the high, world-class standards they rightly set.” As from next year, Universities UK will request universities issue statements as to how courses will be monitored and take steps in regard to those thought of as ‘low-value’.