In recent years, the UK Government has been taking steps to address the issue of low-value degrees and poor job prospects for graduates.
The aim is to ensure students receive a high-quality education that builds employability skills and leads to meaningful employment opportunities.
However, critics argue that these measures may limit the choices available to young people, particularly in subjects that may not immediately lead to “professional” careers, such as arts and humanities.
We will explore the changing landscape of higher education in the UK, the government’s response, and the potential impact on people studying for university degrees.
What Is the Augar Review, and What Were Its Findings?
The government’s response to the issue of low-value degrees stems from the Augar review, commissioned by former Prime Minister Theresa May in 2018.
The review highlighted the need to reduce the number of “low-value” courses that fail to provide good outcomes for graduates.
It recommended various measures, including cutting tuition fees and allocating more funds for further education.
The goal was to ensure that students receive the highest quality possible education equipping them with the skills needed for the job market.
Introducing Recruitment Limits and Fee Reductions
As part of the government’s response to the Augar review, they plan to limit university degrees with high dropout rates or a low number of graduates securing professional jobs.
The Office for Students (OfS), the independent regulator of higher education in the UK, will set these limits to ensure students have better employment prospects upon graduation.
Additionally, the maximum fee for classroom-based foundation year courses will be reduced from £9,250 to £5,760.
This reduction aims to make these courses more affordable and accessible to students.
Not All Courses Lead to a Linear Career Path, Such As Arts and Humanities
Critics of these changes argue that imposing recruitment limits may unfairly affect subjects like arts and humanities, which may not directly lead to “professional” careers.
These subjects have their place. They stimulate critical thinking, communication, and problem-solving skills transferable to various industries.
Restricting the number of students who can pursue these degrees may limit opportunities for young people to explore their passions and interests.
As you can see, the challenge here is striking a balance between the need for employability and the value of a well-rounded education.
Ensuring Quality Education and Employment Outcomes
The government’s focus on limiting low-value degrees and improving employment outcomes is driven by the economic need to create the next generation of skills required by the country’s economy to remain competitive.
Education Minister Robert Halfon emphasises that the policy is not an attack on arts and humanities courses but rather a way to ensure that students leave university with job-ready skills and prospects.
The government aims to guide the Office for Students in using its existing powers to ensure students receive the education and training they need to succeed.
Giving Students the Power: Transparency and Informed Decision-Making
To help students make informed decisions about their higher education, the UK government plans to make it easier for people to assess the quality of university courses, including their earnings potential.
Provide transparent information allowing students to understand the value of the courses they are considering and the potential return on their investment.
By providing access to this information, students are empowered to make choices that align with their career goals and aspirations.
The Role of Apprenticeships and Skills Training
In addition to addressing low-value degrees, the government aims to boost skills training and apprenticeship provision.
This focus on alternative pathways to employment recognises that not all students may choose to pursue a traditional university degree.
Apprenticeships and skills training provides valuable opportunities for individuals to acquire practical skills and gain industry-specific knowledge.
By promoting these options, the government wants to create a diverse and inclusive education system that caters to the needs and aspirations of all students.
It Won’t Be Smooth Sailing: Opposition and Challenges
These measures have faced criticism from opposition MPs, who argue that they restrict choice and opportunity for learners.
Shadow Education Secretary Bridget Phillipson claims that the government’s focus on apprenticeships is undermined by its poor track record in delivering them.
The fear is that the changes may reinforce social inequalities by limiting access to certain degrees in areas with fewer graduate jobs.
Moving Forward: Focus on Striking a Balance
As the UK navigates the changing landscape of higher education, it is becoming ever-important to balance the need for employability and the value of a well-rounded education.
While addressing low-value degrees and improving employment outcomes is important, it is equally important to recognise the broader benefits of non-linear courses such as those in the arts and humanities.
Specialist Certifications as a Way To Build Employability Skills and Future-Proof Your Career
So, what do you make of the Auger review, particularly the implications for the need to upskill through specialist and accredited qualifications to increase your chances of landing a great job or advancing in your career?
In addition to a degree, employers expect job seekers to possess specialist certifications that demonstrate competence and a willingness to learn and grow in their chosen field.
Certifications designed for people wanting to get job ready or those wanting to grow in their current roles, like the ones offered by ITonlinelearning, are what we recommend.
These qualifications help you become qualified for specialist careers in:
IT & Networking
HR & People Development
Management via CMI qualifications (levels 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)
The best part:
- Unlike a university degree, these job-ready qualifications are designed to be completed in months – not years.
- You don’t need a university degree or experience to start with some of these courses and qualifications.
- You will walk away confident and ready for the job of your dreams or to grow in your field – with the skills and knowledge you will gain with these accredited qualifications.
Take the leap towards career success today!