Value for Money in Higher Education: What is it and how can it be achieved?

Value for Money
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Date(s) - 28/01/2014
4:30 pm - 6:30 pm

Strategic Society Centre

A public debate on government policy to improve value-for-money in English higher education.

Speakers at this event will include:

  • Paul Clark, Director of Policy, Universities UK
  • Dr Joanna Williams, Centre for the Study of Higher Education, University of Kent
  • Louisa Darian, Senior Policy Adviser, Which?
  • Carmen Suarez, Team Leader – Higher Education, Office of Fair Trading
  • Chair: James Lloyd, Director, Strategic Society Centre

Twitter hashtag: #vfmHE

The government wants to ensure English universities are providing value for money to their undergraduates.

However, the principal policy lever deployed to achieve this outcome – variable tuition fees – is perceived to have been ineffective, with most institutions opting to charge the maximum amount possible.

This suggests universities and undergraduates have a different view of the ‘value’ of higher education from policymakers; in particular, viewing a degree partly as a ‘positional good’ whose value is undermined by indications that it is less desirable than alternatives.

These outcomes raise important questions about what constitutes the ‘value’ of a degree to students – knowledge, teaching time, employment-ready skills, a marker of intelligence, social capital – as well as the way universities seek to generate such value, and the mechanisms used to measure value by students, institutions and policymakers.

With the government still committed to improving value for money in higher education for undergraduates, this debate will explore:

  • Is a marketplace of ‘student consumers’ the best policy lever available to improve value-for-money to undergraduates?
  • Besides price, what other metrics can indicate value for money in higher education? How can policymakers ensure students and institutions use the most appropriate metrics?
  • Are there risks for student decision-making – and the economy – associated with the emphasis on narrow, easy to measure metrics such as price, teaching time and graduate earnings?
  • Could non-market mechanisms for improving value for money in higher education be more effective, such as quality assurance, benchmarking of key value-generating activities and league tables?

This event is free and open to all; however, registration is required.

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