University courses that have a poor track record, known as 'dead-end' courses, will be named and shamed, to ensure that students get their money's worth as universities begin to charge higher tuition fees.
In higher education, ministers will ask for the publication of detailed information about the employment and earning outcomes of specific degrees. This is because, according to David Willetts, the universities minister, many courses are not valued by employers and can lead to unavoidable unemployment, hence why they can be known as 'dead-end' courses. Scrapping these so-called 'dead-end' courses would limit losses to the taxpayer from students who fail to repay their loans, a loan which, as of next year, could be as much as £9,000.
A Whitehall source said 'The reforms are all about ensuring students get their money's worth'. The source continued to state that due to students having the extra trouble of increased tuition fees, it is only right for the university to become more accountable to students in return, and thus be more honest about the courses they are offering and their graduate opportunity potential. The idea of 'naming and shaming' courses is simply to prepare students better for their employment prospects after university.
Universities will be asked by ministers to publish comparable data on teaching hours and accommodation costs, and to account for how fee income is spent. Ministers want teenagers to have better information when choosing A-levels, using the university publications to help them decide what a sensible path to take could be.
Ministers will ask universities to publish the qualifications of previously successful applicants, to give students an idea of what to aim for. Sir Steve Smith, president of Universities UK, spoke of his worries about the pressures put upon schools to increase their tariff scores and produce good results. He states that schools 'might get you to do an A-level that is not accepted by the most demanding institutions' in order to receive a good mark, and thus boost school tariff scores.
An example of one of these A-levels would be critical thinking or media studies, subjects which are often seen as 'easy' and not of as much worth as subjects like history or a modern language. Therefore, Smith believes universities should make clearer which subjects are more valued by employers, to ensure students are aware of the subjects that can most enhance their graduate potential.