Value for money in higher education: a very English debate

Quite long, but very informative, blog post about the problem of defining ‘value for money’ in higher education. Well worth reading.


The term ‘value for money’ is now deeply entrenched in public discourse about higher education in England. It is written into the Higher Education and Research Act. It is the subject of an ongoing enquiry by te House of Commons Education Committee, and it has launched a few dozen identikit newspaper columns. It is at the centre of what the Office for Students describes as a ‘major piece of research’ that it has recently commissioned, intending to probe students’ perceptions of value for money to ‘inform’ how the OfS ‘takes forward its legal responsibilities to promote’ it. And no doubt it will in turn inform the thinking of Sam Gyimah, the new minister for Higher Education and Science, as he implements the review of student finance and university funding announced last week.

But one missing element in this debate is an agreed definition of value for money. When we talk…

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One Response to “Value for money in higher education: a very English debate”

  1. Perhaps £ per hour of contact time is one parameter which could contribute to the the VFM measurement? Perhaps scaled by the number of attendees (or potential attendees?) of a lecture? Capital cost of practical experimental sessions could be another (again scaled by number of times it is used).
    Outcomes are harder to measure. Happiness and a feeling of intellectual well-being are hard to quantify! Career-integrated income excess compared to non-graduates is, as we know, almost impossible to predict, especially since the employment environment changes more rapidly than the measurements can be made.
    What I would like to know is whether there is any evidence that evidence-based policymaking is better than gut feeling – and my gut feeling is that the free university education (plus maintenance grants) that I received was a better scheme than the current arrangements.

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