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Education: Standards

Question for Department for Education

UIN 110516, tabled on 24 January 2022

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what meetings he has had with the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education ahead of the publication of the Office for Students' consultation on the new student outcomes approach.

Answered on

31 January 2022

The department meets regularly with the Office for Students (OfS) and the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education.

The OfS published consultations on improving the quality of higher education (HE) in England on 20 January. These set out the numerical thresholds which will underpin minimum acceptable student outcomes and how high quality provision will be recognised through the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF).

Our HE sector is world class but there are too many pockets of poor quality that let students down, particularly those from disadvantaged and underrepresented backgrounds.

In line with the government’s manifesto commitment and building upon our announcement last year to refocus universities’ access and participation plans on real social mobility, we are taking serious steps, with the OfS, to drive up the quality of HE across the sector and to tackle the unacceptable pockets of poor quality provision which do not offer value for money for the taxpayer or our students.

Universities and colleges not meeting these minimum expectations will face investigation and consideration of whether they are in breach of their registration conditions, which could lead to sanctions, including fines and reduced access to student finance. These minimum levels are just one factor the OfS will consider. As is currently the case, and as described in the consultation document, the OfS will continue to consider a provider’s wider context, including its student characteristics, before making any final decisions on compliance with registration conditions.

This government believes that every student, regardless of background, deserves quality and transparency from their university or provider about their course. These measures are about tackling low quality, and, through the TEF, rewarding high quality, and ensuring transparency which, overall, will maintain confidence in the HE sector.