THE Conservative-Lib Dem coalition formed in 2010 wanted universities to expand. Much to the chagrin of thousands of youngsters, it got its way in 2012 by nearly trebling the tuition-fee ceiling to £9,000 ($14,000) a year. With students shouldering the bulk of the cost of teaching at universities, the government was able to remove the cap on the numbers that universities were allowed to accept. An additional benefit of the shift, hoped officials, was that increased competition for students should drive up standards.
So far competition has not had that desired effect. Most universities charge the maximum, and there has been little change in the quality of teaching. In a bid to ensure that students and taxpayers get better value for money, the government has created a ranking, the “Teaching Excellence Framework” (TEF), which tries to categorise universities by their teaching quality, not their reputation. It hopes to be able to link the fees that universities may charge to…Continue reading