Eight universities to inspect on dropout rates and online learning

Eight universities will be inspected as part of a government move to “raise” higher education standards, it was announced on Thursday.

The investigations, launched Thursday and focused on business courses, are the first in a series of “boots in the field” inspections announced by Higher and Further Education Minister Michelle Donelan earlier this year.

Inspections will focus on the quality of teaching at institutions, as well as their failure to provide face-to-face teaching or tackle high dropout rates.



Quality has always been at the center of my concerns and I think it is so important because of its strong link with social mobility.

Michelle Donelan

The inspection of eight business and management courses will include a review for “whether shoddy online learning has replaced face-to-face instruction to the detriment of students’ academic experience,” the Office of students.

They will also check whether courses meet the OfS’s new quality standards which came into force in May.

Inspectors will also examine the teaching effectiveness of courses and student contact hours, as well as whether students are receiving “sufficient” learning resources and academic support, with experienced academics conducting the inspections.

The OfS is not naming the universities and colleges under investigation, but plans to publish more details later.

Ms Donelan told the PA news agency that the OfS chose the eight institutions based on a ‘range of factors’, including student feedback on the notification process and the national student survey. students, as well as data on outcomes, dropout rates and other information that revealed “a wide variation in this provision in the matter”.

She added that while student feedback was just one factor, the areas explored “will include absolutely face-to-face provision and quality of teaching, but also the broader support that is given in these subjects. “.

The OfS will also look at grade inflation in its future inspections.

Ms. Donelan said that of the eight providers, five had abandonment rates of 40%.

“Quality has always been at the center of my concerns and I think it’s also important because of its strong link with social mobility,” she said.

“If we don’t have high-quality general courses, then students will start a course that they may not complete, that may not lead them to a graduate job, that may not give them the result they deserve when making such an investment of their time and money.

There will be more inspections in June and July, but she added that it was not that the government wanted “X number of investigations” but needed confidence in the quality.



While most classes have returned to normal, it is only fair that the OfS wonders if some universities and colleges are selling students short

Susan Lapworth, OfS

“Overall we have some of the best performances in the world and we are leading the way in a number of areas,” she said.

The Teaching Excellence Framework has also been revamped to ‘Improve Quality in the Sector’ with a new ‘Needs Improvement’ category.

“We are also ensuring that universities are much more transparent about their dropout rates and results data, so that students can make informed choices, but again this will change behaviors within the sector and will improve the quality.”

Susan Lapworth, acting chief executive of the OfS, said: “We know that students have gone through an exceptionally difficult time during the pandemic. While most classes have returned to normal, it is only fair for the OfS to wonder whether some universities and colleges are short-selling students.

“It is also right that we look at the quality of business and management courses more generally, as around 400,000 students from OfS registered providers study this subject each year and they can expect a high-quality experience no matter which provider they choose.

“The launch of these surveys signals a move by the OfS towards actively regulating quality in the higher education sector.

“In addition to the direct impact on the courses under investigation, this work sends a clear message to all of the universities and colleges we regulate that they need to ensure that all of their courses are well-taught, well-resourced and provide students with a credible qualification that stands the test of time.

“Where that’s the case, they shouldn’t be worried about our regulations. Where that’s not the case, we’re prepared to demand improvements and consider imposing penalties.

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