The Office for Students has recently criticised poorly performing higher education establishments.
Seemingly, tens of thousands of students are studying at universities and colleges that could be fined if their undergraduates fail to get jobs, or if their dropout rates are high.
Financial penalties of upto £500,000 will be imposed when minimum requirements for education outcomes are introduced. In excess of 56,000 students are studying at 35 universities and colleges that have failed to meet a requirement for 80 per cent of full-time students to progress to a second year of study.
As examples, the University of Bedfordshire has a progression rate of 70.8 percent, London Metropolitan University has a 77.7 percent metric, and University College Birmingham offers a 46.8% return. The Office for Students found that more than 11,000 students, at 62 universities and colleges, do not meet a 60 per cent threshold for students securing professional jobs or training 15 months after graduating.
Susan Lapworth, chief executive for the Office for Students, said that “too many students … are recruited on to courses with weak outcomes, which do not improve their life chances.” Further comment was made that the regulator will consider performance in individual subjects to ensure “pockets of poor performance can be … addressed.”
The TaxPayers’ Alliance has found at least 10 examples of degree subjects, such as “wildlife media”, that are unlikely to earn their graduates the average non-graduate salary in England of £26,000 per annum, five years after graduation.
University courses that have come in for criticism include the three-year BA course in ‘Concept and Comic Art’ run by De Montfort University. The fee for this course, for UK students, is £9,250 a year.
A spokesman for Universities UK said it worked with educational institutions to ensure they clearly “communicated the value of their courses to prospective students, employers and the public.”
An American professor has been appointed as professor of gender stereotypes at Cambridge University. Deborah Prentice, former Provost of Princeton University, will become the first American to fill the Vice Chancellors role at Cambridge.
The outgoing Cambridge vice-chancellor, Canadian lawyer Stephen Toope, is leaving his position two years early with the suggestion being that the Covid pandemic has taken a toll on his family.
The University is, seemingly, trying to navigate away from controversies over both free speech and culture wars. Professor Prentice has been previously praised by colleagues for her “wisdom, skill, collegiality, and scholarly values.” Her career has covered a 34-year period at Princeton which included a five year period as a Provost, she was Dean of the faculty between 2014 and 2017, and chair of the department of psychology for 12 years.
The professor has stated that she is an academic “first, last and always” and has been described by Princeton as “a psychologist who studies social norms and whose research has focused on gender stereotypes, intimate partner violence and excessive alcohol.”
Yet she has been faced with free speech challenges in the US in which a noted Princeton professor was dismissed. By virtue of her position as Provost at the Ivy League school she was drawn into controversy after a classics professor, Joshua Katz, was dismissed earlier this year. The suggestion being that he had not been fully honest and co-operative with an investigation into his sexual relationship with an undergraduate student 15 years ago.
By contrast, allies of Prof Katz were concerned that he was targeted for his views, after he criticised anti-racist proposals by Princeton faculty, students, and staff in an online journal.
In response to her appointment at Cambridge Prentice said: “It is a huge honour to be nominated to lead such a renowned institution. I welcome the challenge of helping Cambridge write the next chapter of its long and proud history.”