Lack of advice about degree options is “deeply concerning”

A report from the Public Accounts Committee has found that teenagers in England are having to make choices about university on the basis of too little information.

But fear not – the government has recently introduced changes to the regulation of higher education, which will address the issues of poor service.

The BBC shared a pretty comprehensive summary of the report on its website last week:

  • the Department for Education (DfE) is treating the higher education sector as a market, but not one that works in the interests of students or taxpayers
  • young people are not being properly supported in making decisions on higher education, with lack of careers advice a crucial factor
  • students have limited means of redress if they are unhappy with the quality of their course, even if they drop out
  • the DfE does not have enough of a grip on actions to widen participation in higher education, and is over-reliant on the actions of some universities
  • the new Office for Students has not yet articulated how it will support the varied and complex interests of students.

The Office for Students, which “works with higher education providers to make sure that students succeed in higher education”, told the BBC that it welcomed the report’s “sharp focus on student opportunity, choice, quality and value for money”, saying its job was to “protect and promote” students’ interests.

Chief executive Nicola Dandridge said: “The committee is right to highlight the difficulties that prospective students can face in deciding what and where to study. Improving the quality of information, advice and guidance for students is a priority for us.

“Our process for ensuring that all registered higher education providers meet challenging standards of quality and student protection will ensure a common threshold.”

Office for Students is an independent public body that reports to Parliament through the Department for Education.

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