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Amid predictions that higher education will be changed forever by the current pandemic, Professor James Miller, Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Glasgow Caledonian University, suggests the innovative ways the sector is responding to the crisis will make it even more valued in the future.
The current crisis has underlined the critical role played by the UK’s experts and researchers and the institutions supporting them, as well as the need for collaboration between them, says Dr Joe Marshall, Chief Executive of the National Centre for Universities and Business.
As a growing number of universities move teaching and assessment online in response to the coronavirus pandemic, the University of Derby is holding a virtual conference which aims to support staff in making the transition.
The Office for Students is leaving it up to universities to decide on particular approaches to the Coronavirus pandemic rather than issuing specific guidance, and has promised to minimises its regulatory demands on the sector in response to the crisis.
The Office for Students has published its value for money strategy for 2019 to 2021, setting out how it plans to ensure higher education providers deliver value for money for both students and taxpayers.
According to a 2018 survey commissioned by the OfS, just 38 per cent of students believe their course offers good value for money.
The strategy identifies the ways in which the OfS will deliver better value for money for students and taxpayers, and also defines the OfS’s regulatory role in these areas and outlines how it will measure its success.
Among the priorities identified in the strategy are:
Improving teaching quality – over 90 per cent of students responding to the OfS survey felt that the quality of teaching, assessment and feedback are very important in demonstrating value for money
Promoting transparency around fees and funding – 88 per cent of respondents said that seeing a breakdown of how fees are spent would be helpful in judging value
Protecting students as consumers and improving consumer information – 24 per cent said they were not informed or prepared for the level of costs that came with being a studentsecuring positive employment outcomes, and 65 per cent of respondents said getting a job and earning more were important factors in judging value for money.
The OfS says it will continue to survey students and graduates to measure student perceptions of value for money, the outcomes of which will form one measure of its progress in this area. The OfS will also consider measures of student experience and outcomes, including the National Student Survey, the Graduate Outcomes Survey, and data on graduate earnings.
Nicola Dandridge, chief executive of the Office for Students, said:
"Good value will mean different things to different people. However, as students have told us, high quality teaching, transparency on fees, and securing good jobs after graduation are particularly important factors. Our new strategy sets out our ambition to ensure that universities and colleges respond to this feedback and deliver value for money for all students.
"We will also secure value for money for taxpayers by promoting transparency around higher education spending, and ensuring universities and colleges deliver quality courses that equip graduates with skills that benefit society and the economy. The OfS also needs to deliver good value for money itself in terms of its regulatory functions, and the strategy sets out how we intend to do this."
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