The executive director of consumer body Which? will urge the sector to “get its house in order” and call for universities to be judged on how their graduates perform in the labour market.
Richard Lloyd is scheduled to speak at the Quality Assurance Agency’s annual conference at Royal Holloway, University of London today.
“Before the cap on student numbers is lifted, higher education must get its house in order,” he is expected to say during an “in conversation” event with Anthony McClaran, the QAA chief executive.
“We want the regulators to ensure the right measures are in place to promote competition around teaching quality, protect students from poor standards, and ensure that students are receiving value for money,” he is set to say.
Mr Lloyd was a former special adviser at No 10 under Gordon Brown and is said to have the ear of the current Labour leadership.
He will also say that “the information provided to prospective students isn’t sufficient to allow them to make a fully informed choice, and reforms to rectify this are happening too slowly”.
“Students have a right to know about the academic experience, including how many teaching hours they will receive and how long they’ll spend in small group teaching, so they can choose a university and course that suits their learning style,” he will add.
And Mr Lloyd is expected to say: “One of the big issues of the market seems to be the lack of measures of success. The league tables tend to focus on which universities are best for research, but we know little about which universities are adding the most value in terms of learning, or success in the labour market.
“Requiring universities to be more transparent and include better information about the academic experience in the Key Information Set should encourage universities to focus on the quality of the teaching they offer.”
The call from Which? to provide more information on graduate labour market performance comes after Lord Young, enterprise adviser to David Cameron, called for universities to be ranked on the earnings of their graduates.