Cameron adviser calls for courses to be ranked using earnings data

An adviser to David Cameron has urged the government to rank universities’ courses based on their employment rates and graduate earnings.

June 19, 2014

A report published today by Tory peer Lord Young, the prime minister’s enterprise adviser, recommends using graduate tax data to create a Future Earnings and Employment Record (FEER), to help prospective students choose where and what to study.

The concept chimes with the interests of David Willetts, the universities and science minister. He is known to be a supporter of an existing academic study that will look at graduate earnings by university attended and course studied, using tax and Student Loans Company data.

That study prompted claims it could be used by politicians to raise the fee cap at those elite institutions where graduate earnings are likely to be highest.

Lord Young’s recommendations, in Enterprise for All, may be seen as an attempt to push forward the concept of publishing graduate earnings data by university and course as an idea for the Conservative manifesto at the general election.

Among other recommendations from Lord Young are that universities should offer elective modules on enterprise and support enterprise societies for students.

The peer says that the FEER, which would also apply to colleges and schools, would be “transformational to the way young people assess which academic institutions and subject areas offer the best educational and career prospects, including opportunities for self-employment, and enable them to make an informed choice ahead of committing to tuition fees.

“Publishing this information through league tables would also promote competition and improvement amongst educators in their response to raising academic standards and their relevance to work and business.”

He adds: “I have encouraged government to publish information on further education this year, as a first step, and then use additional legislation to bring together HMRC data and statistical information about destinations of leavers to track employment and earnings for all education sectors and long after a person’s education is completed.

“In addition I would like to use this provision to publish and index future employment and earnings data in a simple and accessible format so that students can assess the full costs and likely benefits of specific courses at specific institutions.”

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