Students will soon be able to discover whether they are getting value for money from their university courses, after the government launched a new ranking system for teaching.
Under the new framework, individual subjects at universities will be given a gold, silver or bronze rating based on student feedback, drop-out rates and graduate outcomes.
The system is an extension of the government’s Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), which saw some of the UK’s most prestigious universities - including the London School of Economics (LSE) and the University of Liverpool - handed the lowest ranking.
“Prospective students deserve to know which courses deliver great teaching and great outcomes – and which ones are lagging behind,” said universities minister Sam Gyimah, who replaced Jo Johnson in the role in January.
“The new subject-level TEF will give students more information than ever before, allowing them to drill down and compare universities by subject.”
The Department for Education today (Monday) launched a 10-week public consultation into the new ranking system, which the government claims is a “global first”.
It also began a pilot scheme involving 50 universities and colleges, including the University of Cambridge, Imperial College London and the LSE.
The system is expected to be fully rolled out in autumn 2019, according to officials.
Gyimah added: “In the age of the student, universities will no longer be able to hide if their teaching quality is not up to the world-class standard that we expect.”
But the scheme is likely to cause controversy.
Last year, the National Union of Students (NUS) called for a boycott on the National Student Survey, the poll of undergraduates used to help rank universities for the expanded TEF.
The union calimed the system would “disproportionally hit female students and students from black and working class backgrounds” due to its focus on what students go on to do after graduation.
“It will give universities material to avoid enrolling students from backgrounds who face structural discrimination in the job market,” then-NUS president Malia Bouattia wrote in a piece for HuffPost UK.
TEF caused further uproar when it was revealed that, with the ultimate aim of linking teaching standards to funding, universities which passed basic standards would be able to raise tuition fees above £9,000 per year.