The government’s university watchdog is planning to crack down on “poor quality” degree courses that fail to make graduates employable.
The Office for Students (OfS) said universities and colleges that are not up to standard could face fines and restrictions on their access to funding in the form of student loans.
The watchdog said courses that fail to get 60 per cent of their graduates into professional employment or further study may face sanctions, alongside courses that see fewer than of their 75 per cent of their students graduate, or fewer than 80 per cent continue into the second year of study.
Universities minister Michelle Donelan said “Our university system is acclaimed as world class, but there are too many pockets of poor quality.”
In a statement, the OfS argued that poor quality courses disproportionately impact groups that underrepresented in higher education.
OfS chief executive Nicola Danridge said: “Students from all backgrounds deserve to be on good courses leading to qualifications which stand the test of time and prepare them well for life after graduation.”
However, the University of College Union (UCU) responded in claiming the new measures “will harm the very students they are ostensibly designed to help.”
UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: “Not only will the thresholds damage courses which play an important role in widening participation, but there is a real risk that universities, aiming to avoid sanctions, will simply stop admitting students who they deem unlikely to progress.”