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UK degree courses to be ranked bronze, silver and gold

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UK university degree courses are about to be put on a podium. Source: Shutterstock.com

Degree courses are to get a colour-coded shake-up in the UK, with individual degrees at separate universities being rated gold, silver and bronze based on teaching quality, among other criteria.

Degrees will be rated on official data on teaching quality as well as graduate earnings and drop-out rates.

The tool is set to go live in 2020, according to the BBC, and could revolutionise the way students choose their programmes.

International students face barriers to choosing what subject and which universities to apply to, as they cannot easily visit the institutions on open days to get a feel for the department.

This tool should help international students to analyse the quality of each degree on a case-by-case basis, rather than relying on conflicting university rankings as is currently the case.

“Prospective students deserve to know which courses deliver great teaching and great outcomes – and which ones are lagging behind,” Universities Minister Sam Gyimah told the BBC.

“In the age of the student, universities will no longer be able to hide if their teaching quality is not up to the world-class standard that we expect.”

The ratings will be based on research by the Institute for Fiscal Studies and the University of Cambridge, which draws information from school pupils, through student finance to tax records.

This system is part of a larger project called the Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework (TEF) that aims to improve transparency between teaching quality at UK universities.

The TEF has given every higher education institution as bronze, silver or gold rating to help students make informed decisions about where to study.

However, some have criticised the initiative as a failure.

National Union of Students vice-president Amatey Doku told the BBC: “Unfortunately the Teaching Excellence Framework does little to measure teaching excellence and extending it to subject-level won’t solve the problem.

“The metrics used tell us little about the quality of teaching but instead [it] opens the door for institutions to attempt to game their metrics rather than drive continuous improvement of their teaching practices.

“With the promised independent review into TEF still under way, it is an irresponsible move to make without the recommendations from the review or the input of students’ voices.”

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