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Proposals for consumer-style comparisons for degree courses

Subjects in each university will be given a gold, silver or bronze award.

Would-be students will be able to make consumer-style comparisons of degree courses under Government proposals.

Subjects in each university will be given an overall, gold, silver or bronze award, with details publicly available to students on areas such as their chances of getting a job after taking a course, prospective earnings and drop-out rates, according to the Department for Education.

The rating system is being billed by Government as a way of providing potential undergraduates with more information to compare different courses on offer at different universities, as well as exposing poor quality teaching.

Prospective students deserve to know which courses deliver great teaching and great outcomes – and which ones are lagging behind Sam Gyimah

Universities Minister Sam Gyimah said that it will help “ensure that more students get the value for money they deserve from higher education”.

The move is the next phase of the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) – which assesses universities on a range of measures, including student satisfaction and what students do after they graduate, and awards them an overall badge of gold, silver or bronze.

The first university-level awards, which were decided by an independent panel, were announced last year, with the next round due this summer.

The TEF came in for criticism from a number of top universities when the first ratings were published last June after many leading institutions failed to achieve the highest award.

Concerns were raised that the system did not fully measure quality and that potential students needed clear guidance about what the results meant and how they should be used.

The subject proposals have been published for consultation, and if introduced, the first ratings would be published in 2020.

It is understood that the subject-level awards and detailed information are likely to be made available on various sites including government online portals and university websites, as well as used in performance rankings.

Mr Gyimah said: “Prospective students deserve to know which courses deliver great teaching and great outcomes – and which ones are lagging behind.

“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.

“The new subject-level TEF will give students more information than ever before, allowing them to drill down and compare universities by subject. This will level the international playing field to help applicants make better choices, and ensure that more students get the value for money they deserve from higher education.”

A Department for Education spokesman said the ratings system will allow students to make “consumer-style comparisons of degree courses”, adding, “this will shine a light on poor quality teaching and ensure that standards are drive upwards”.

A spokeswoman for the Russell Group, which represents 24 leading universities, said: “Our members provide an outstanding student experience where teaching is enhanced by access to world-class research and facilities.

“Developing a robust TEF that is truly reflective of the UK’s excellent higher education system and which provides genuinely helpful information for students in their decision-making will take time.

“We look forward to engaging with this technical consultation, and to the independent review of TEF which will take place next year.”

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