Universities should be given Ofsted-style rankings and highly rated institutions should be allowed to charge higher fees, a government Green Paper has suggested.
Thousands of young people took to the streets of London in protest against the increasing cost of education on Wednesday, but the appeal appears to have fallen on deaf ears as the government unveiled the new proposals on Friday.
The best performing universities will be allowed to charger higher fees in line with inflation, while poorly performing ones will risk losing fee income if they are shunned by prospective students.
Ministers expect a growing fees gap to emerge over the years between those rated for their teaching excellence and those who fail to make the grade.
Under the blueprint, contained in a Green Paper on the future of higher education, universities will be ranked on student satisfaction ratings, drop out level and graduate job prospects.
This will be the first time universities have been ranked on their teaching rather than research standards, in an effort to ensure students who now pay up to £9,000 a year for their courses get value for money from their lecturers.
Universities Secretary Jo Johnson
In an interview with The Independent, Universities Secretary Jo Johnson said:
Whilst there is undoubtedly brilliant teaching in our universities, there is also at times and in some places patchiness and variability and I want to make sure we’re delivering real value for money for students.
The move has been met with criticism, however, from campaigners who think the cost of tertiary education is already too high.
Addressing the student demo organised by the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts (NCAFC) on Wednesday, shadow chancellor John McDonnell told students:
Your generation has been betrayed by this Government in increases to tuition fees, in scrapping the education maintenance allowance and cuts in education.
Education is a gift from one generation to another, it is not a commodity to be bought and sold.