Treating Students Fairly: The Economics of Post-School Education Contents

Chapter 3: Attempts to create a market in higher education

50.This chapter will explain the recent reforms that were intended to create a market in higher education, how this has exacerbated the number of entrants to higher education undertaking undergraduate degrees, and how this has affected the perception and provision of other forms of higher education.53

Reforms to create a higher education market

The 2012 change to tuition fees

51.The coalition Government announced plans to change how universities were funded in 2010. University tuition fees would rise from £3,000 a year to a basic amount of £6,000 a year, with institutions able to charge a maximum of £9,000 a year if certain conditions were met. The increased fees would lead to a reduction in the government grant to universities. Students would be able to take out loans to cover the full cost of tuition. A 2011 white paper, ‘Students at the Heart of the System’, explained that the reforms would enable greater competition:

“Our reforms to higher education funding will promote the development of a more diverse, dynamic and responsive higher education sector where funding follows the student and the forces of competition replace the burdens of bureaucracy in driving up the quality of the academic experience …

We want to ensure that the new student finance regime supports student choice, and that in turn student choice drives competition, including on price.”54

52.Introducing the proposals in the House of Commons in November 2010, the then Minister for Universities and Science, David Willetts, described the £6,000 a year fee as the “basic threshold” and that “in exceptional circumstances” there would be an absolute limit of £9,000.55 The 2011 white paper explained that universities that charged between £6,000 and £9,000 a year would have to meet “much tougher conditions on widening participation and fair access.” These involved institutions demonstrating, “to the satisfaction of the independent Director of Fair Access, what more they will do to attract students from under-represented and disadvantaged groups.”56

A lack of price competition

53.Since the reforms, there has been very little of the price competition which was envisaged in the 2011 white paper: almost all universities have charged the maximum fee which is currently £9,250.57 Dr Gavan Conlon, from London Economics, said that institutions that charged below the maximum “were quickly punished … Institutions were incentivised to charge £9,000, and the government loans facilitated their charging £9,000.” He said this was a repeat of when fees had risen to £3,000 in 2006: “Ministers were told explicitly that there would be no price competition with the £3,000 cap. Essentially, that information was not believed and, lo and behold … every institution in the country chose £3,000.”58

54.The Institute for Fiscal Studies have estimated that under the current parameters of the income-contingent student loan system (including the recent raising of the repayment threshold to £25,000)59, around 83 per cent of students will not pay the full amount of their loan back.60 Dr Andrew McGettigan, a writer on higher education, explained that this meant the headline tuition fee did not operate as a price and most students were not price-sensitive:

“Once you have an income-contingent loan, the headline tuition fee is not a price, because the cost of study is your loan repayment. Loan repayments are determined mostly by future income. A typical graduate, whether they graduate with £40,000 of debt or £49,000 of debt, because they have gone to an institution that charges £6,000 or £9,000, will see no difference in cost unless they are in the higher deciles of the income distribution. That means you have a problem. It is not that it is not price sensitive; it is not really a price at that point.”61

55.Lord Willetts, a former Minister for Universities and Skills, admitted that “once you have a graduate repayment scheme of the sort we have, you do not have price competition.”62

56.Dr McGettigan said that institutions would be considered lower quality if they charged below the maximum:

“if an institution charged £7,000, it would be saying that for every student it got it would be resourced £2,000 less per year … They would be making a decision to give those students less resource and, therefore, most likely a worse experience.”63

Removal of the cap on student numbers

57.The coalition Government announced in the 2013 Autumn Statement that the cap on undergraduate student numbers at publicly funded higher education institutions would be removed by 2015/16. It said that “the strong demand for higher education significantly exceeds the supply of places”:

“This is in part because the numbers of students providers can accept have been tightly controlled since 2009. This cap acts as a bar to aspiration, as people with the grades to enter higher education are excluded from doing so. And it also prevents the UK from developing the highly-skilled workforce demanded in modern economies.”64

58.Dr McGettigan explained the logic behind removing the cap:

“we could not create that kind of market pressure on price, and we had to consider the other aspect, which, in neo-classical economics, is that, if you have unmet demand, you will not get price competition, so you take the caps off established universities and expect them to compete with each other.”

59.The removal of the cap was criticised by some witnesses. Lord Baker of Dorking said it was “probably a mistake … because the funding system is so generous to universities.” He explained how this incentivised universities to recruit an ever-increasing number of students.65

60.Lord Willetts defended the removal of the cap: “I do not believe in government setting targets for the number of people who go to university.” He said he used to have this argument when he was in government with Vince Cable:

“In my former constituency, 23 per cent of young people went to university; in his affluent Twickenham constituency, the figure was 63 per cent. If the only way we can get more people from Havant going to university is to have fewer people going from Twickenham, we will have a very long wait.”66

61.The Minister for Universities and Science, Sam Gyimah MP, also defended the decision: “removing the number cap might have encouraged more people to go to university than otherwise would have done. Politically I would say that not putting a cap on aspiration is a good thing, and the last thing you want is a Minister in Whitehall deciding how many people get a university education.”67

62.It is surprising that HM Treasury has allowed numbers to be unrestricted when, as Chapter 10 demonstrates, the average subsidy on student loans issued each year is estimated to be between 40 and 50 per cent. It is strange also that when the cap was removed, no alternative mechanism to prevent this subsidy being open-ended was put in place, such as minimum entry requirements.

Is there a functioning market in higher education?

63.The 2012 reforms did not lead to universities competing on price but the removal of the student cap enabled them to compete for student numbers. Does this impose sufficient discipline on institutions? The Government believes so. In its October 2017 consultation on the regulatory framework for higher education, it said higher education was “well suited to market mechanisms driving continuous improvement.” It listed five reasons in justification for this:

64.It also listed seven reasons why higher education was a market unlike any other:

65.Some witnesses were critical of the idea that it was possible to have a functioning market in higher education, believing that the arguments in paragraph 64 outweighed those in paragraph 63 and made it impossible to sustain the claim that higher education was ‘well-suited to market mechanisms’. Dr McGettigan said the “fundamental problem with the higher education system is the idea that the market can be the solution.” He said that “you have to realise that you have a market where there is almost no switching, and where people are making a one-off purchase.”70 He questioned the ability of students to inform themselves fully about their options:

“How do you inform yourself about the 140 universities in England, and probably another 300 further education colleges that offer degrees, or sub-degree undergraduate qualifications? There are alternative providers. How on earth do you do that?”71

66.Professor Patrick Bailey, from London South Bank University, disagreed:

“I would not want you to underestimate how smart the students are in choosing their universities [ … ] students not only gain as much quantitative information as they can but use social media and a whole range of other communication tools that some of us are less familiar with to make their decisions.”72

He said students were “very well-informed” when making decisions.

67.The Minister for Universities and Science and Dr Philippa Lloyd from the Department for Education believed higher education was amenable to market regulation. They both pointed to a 2015 policy paper from the Competition and Markets Authority which said that “competition and choice can play an important role in helping to deliver high-quality and student-focused services, provided they are implemented in a way which recognises the unique features of the sector.”73

Market regulation

68.The Higher Education and Research Act 2017 provided for the establishment of a new ‘Office for Students’ to act as the market regulator for higher education. The Office for Students became operational in April 2018. Its four primary regulatory objectives are that:

“all students, from all backgrounds, and with the ability and desire to undertake higher education:

69.The Department for Education explained how the ‘Teaching Excellence Framework’ and publication of the ‘Longitudinal Educational Outcomes’ data would help achieve these objectives:

“The new Teaching Excellence Framework will assess, recognise and reward high quality teaching in higher education and incentivise driving up the standard of teaching. It will also give students clear information about where teaching quality is best and where students have achieved the best outcomes. Complementing the TEF, Longitudinal Educational Outcomes (LEO) data and a new transparency duty on higher education institutions will ensure people have the information they need to choose the course that is right for them.”75

Teaching Excellence Framework

70.The Teaching Excellence Framework was introduced in 2016 and assesses the quality of teaching in universities by ranking them as gold, silver or bronze. In its current iteration, universities are judged on six metrics: the first three are on student satisfaction as measured by the National Student Survey; the fourth measures the proportion of students who do not continue on a course; and the fifth and sixth are based on a survey of graduates’ subsequent employment.

71.The framework was criticised for its over-reliance on the National Student Survey. Box 3 examines how the National Student Survey is used in more detail. Professor Bailey, who was on the most-recent panel of assessors for the Teaching Excellence Framework, said that it was “an extremely crude measure of teaching quality and learning environment to take three values from the National Student Survey and use them as the feed-in for the metrics.”

Box 3: The use of the National Student Survey in the Teaching Excellence Framework

The first three metrics in the Teaching Excellence Framework are headed ‘the teaching on my course’, ‘assessment and feedback’ and ‘academic support’. The score for each metric is calculated based on the percentage of students replying ‘mostly agree’ or ‘definitely agree’ to the following questions (the six available options for answers are definitely agree, mostly agree, neither agree nor disagree, mostly disagree, definitely disagree, not applicable):

The teaching on my course

  • Staff are good at explaining things
  • Staff have made the subject interesting
  • The course is intellectually stimulating
  • My course has challenged me to achieve my best work

Assessment and feedback

  • The criteria used in marking have been clear in advance
  • Marking and assessment has been fair
  • Feedback on my work has been timely
  • I have received helpful comments on my work

Academic support

  • I have been able to contact staff when I needed to
  • I have received sufficient advice and guidance in relation to my course
  • Good advice was available when I needed to make study choices on my course

The survey is completed by students in their final year of study and a minimum 50 per cent response rate is required for a score to count for the calculation of metrics. The metric score is an average of the current year and the previous two years of responses.

The average percentage of ‘mostly agree’ and ‘definitely agree’ answers for the questions within each metric are then compared against a benchmark which is calculated for that particular institution (which is based on the characteristics of the students at that institution). Performance against those benchmarks, and the benchmarks for student retention and graduate outcomes, determines the award of a gold, silver or bronze rating.

Source: Department for Education, ‘Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework Specification’, (October 2017): [accessed 10 May 2018]

72.We heard evidence that questioned the reliability of the survey responses. When the Committee spoke to students informally, we heard that one university offered to pay people £5 to fill in the survey. A student told us that students “fake” their responses to the survey in order to make the university look good and another said that “universities phone third year students and keep contacting them until they fill in the survey. It can get to the point where the students just answer the questions to get them to stop.”

73.Professor Graham Virgo QC, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Education at the University of Cambridge, said that although the framework had “undoubtedly” had benefits, particularly in a renewed focus on teaching at research-intensive universities, it was “not successful in conveying the right information to students”. He considered that “to understand the workings behind [the ratings] involves careful analysis of metrics and complex benchmarking.”76

74.Professor Sir Keith Burnett, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sheffield, agreed, saying that the benchmarking in particular was “very complex … I am personally suspicious of the assessment … It will take a lot of time and effort, and I think we will still be arguing about it in 20 years.”77 He questioned whether the Government needed the Teaching Excellence Framework. It is surprising that, when judging the quality of teaching, there is no element of observing teaching in action, as there is under the Ofsted system.

75.Some witnesses were more positive about the framework. Professor Julia Buckingham, a board member of Universities UK, said the National Student Survey had had “a tremendous impact” on improving the quality of teaching. She said the Teaching Excellence Framework was also improving quality: “There is obviously a long way to go with the TEF, but it is certainly encouraging universities to raise standards, which is what we all want to do. I also think that students are working much, much harder.”78 Professor James Stirling CBE, Provost of Imperial College London, compared it to the introduction of the Research Excellence Framework which: “arguably [ … ] took 10 or 15 years to get it right”, but has “improved the quality of research in UK universities.”79

76.The Minister for Universities and Science conceded that some of the “proxies on the National Student Survey … are very remote, and there is reason to be suspicious about these things.” However, he thought “it was right that there is some kind of accountability in the system for what our universities are offering”; he had yet to see any “constructive alternatives being provided.”80

77.The next iteration of the Teaching Excellence Framework will reduce its reliance on the National Student Survey. The proposed changes are outlined in Box 4.

Box 4: Proposed changes to the Teaching Excellence Framework

In October 2017, the Government published changes to the Teaching Excellence Framework. Jo Johnson MP, the then Minister for Universities and Science, told the 2017 Universities UK annual conference, these include:

  • placing less weight on the National Student Survey to “give it a more proportionate place in the assessment”;
  • adapting the assessment procedure universities with large numbers of part-time students; and
  • introducing new metrics to measure grade inflation and student labour market outcomes.

Source: Jo Johnson MP, Speech to UUK annual conference, (7 September 2017): [accessed 10 May 2018]

78.As with the use of any metrics to assess performance, there are concerns that universities will seek to game the system in the pursuit of higher rankings. Professor David Latchman CBE, Master of Birkbeck College, gave an example:

“In in a lot of league tables and in other things, you do very well if you take students with high A-Level grades. I could move Birkbeck 40 places up the league tables in the Sunday Times and the Guardian simply by changing our admissions criteria. Would that be in the spirit of taking people who have relatively poor qualifications or people aged 30 who did not do A-Levels but who have a tremendous desire to learn? No, but then we appear lower down in those league tables because we are making input measures, whereas actually we should be making output measures or, even better, added-value measures.”

79.One area the Committee explored was so-called ‘grade inflation’: whether universities increasingly award higher proportions of first and upper-second class degrees to attract students. For 2016/17, 26 per cent of graduates completing their first undergraduate degree achieved a first-class degree, up from 18 per cent in 2012/13; and 75 per cent gained an upper second or a first, up from 68 per cent in 2012/13.

80.Table 2 shows the universities that awarded the highest proportion of first-class degrees in 2016/17 and compares it to the proportion they awarded in 2011/12 and 1994/5.

Table 2: Top ten universities by proportion of students receiving first-class degrees in 2016/17, and comparison with 2011/12 and 1994/95


Proportion of students receiving first-class degrees in 1994/95 (%)

Proportion of students receiving first-class degrees in 2011/12 (%)

Proportion of students receiving first-class degrees in 2016/17 (%)

University of Surrey




Imperial College




University College London




University of East Anglia




University of Huddersfield




University of Oxford




University of Greenwich




University of West London81




University of Bath




University of Durham




Source: Higher Education Statistics Agency, ‘Free publications to download’, 1994/95: [accessed 24 May 2018]; Higher Education Statistics Agency, ‘Students in Higher Education 2011/12’, 1 February 2013:–12 [accessed 24 May 2018]; Higher Education Statistics Agency, ‘HE qualifiers by HE provider and level of qualification obtained’, 2016/17: [accessed 24 May 2018]

81.The same figures for the universities quoted in evidence in this chapter are shown in Table 3.

Table 3: Proportion of students at universities quoted in this chapter receiving first-class degrees in 1994/95, 2011/12 and 2016/17


Proportion of students receiving first-class degrees in 1994/95 (%)

Proportion of students receiving first-class degrees in 2011/12 (%)

Proportion of students receiving first-class degrees in 2016/17 (%)

University of Cambridge




University of Central Lancashire




University of Sheffield




Source: Ibid.

82.Professor Sir Keith Burnett said that there had “undoubtedly been grade inflation across the system.” He described the degree classification system as “medieval” and called for it to be replaced.82

83.Professor Buckingham, however, said that she “genuinely believe[s] that students are working much harder than they did. They are paying for it and they are working harder.”83 Professor Mike Thomas, vice-chancellor of the University of Central Lancashire, said that given the increased resources going into universities and improvements to student–staff ratios, “I think most people would be disappointed in the country if all those things did not show students getting better results.”84 Professor Virgo QC did not think there was any evidence of grade inflation being linked to the National Student Survey or Teaching Excellence Framework.85

84.The Department for Education expressed concern about grade inflation and a ‘grade inflation metric’, as noted in Box 4, is being added to the Teaching Excellence Framework.86

85.The aim of the 2012 reforms to create an effective market amongst universities has not been achieved, as evidenced by the lack of price competition. We have seen little evidence to suggest that the higher education sector is suitable or amenable to market regulation.

86.We are concerned that the replacement of nearly all grant funding by tuition fees, coupled with the removal of the cap on student numbers, has incentivised universities to attract prospective students onto full-time undergraduate degrees. This may also explain the striking increase in grade inflation. Some students may have been better served by pursuing alternative higher education qualifications.

87.The Teaching Excellence Framework will not impose sufficient discipline on the sector to ensure the quality of the ever-increasing provision of undergraduate degrees. The framework is based on metrics which are too general to relay much information about the quality of an institution or course and are too dependent on unreliable surveys. Risk is borne almost entirely by students and taxpayers rather than the institutions.

88.We now consider how the 2012 reforms have supported further the ascendancy of the undergraduate degree over other higher education qualifications at Levels 4 and 5 (such as foundation degrees and other higher vocational and technical qualifications below Level 6 degree level).

Other higher education qualifications (Levels 4 and 5)

89.Qualifications at Levels 4 and 5 are higher education qualifications and are offered by both further education colleges and universities. Professor Madeleine Atkins, then Chief Executive of the Higher Education Funding Council, told the Committee that they fund directly 190 further education colleges that offer higher education provision, at the same rate as higher education in universities. She said that “further education colleges provide courses that are often tailored to the local context and that cater particularly for those who are not mobile and who cannot go across the country to study.”87

90.There are low numbers of entrants to higher education studying for these qualifications. Professor Ewart Keep, Director of the Centre on Skills, Knowledge & Organisational Performance at the University of Oxford, agreed that £9,250 fees gave universities an incentive to attract students who may have been better off studying for a technical qualification.88 Richard Atkins CBE, the Further Education Commissioner, said that universities were “fighting very hard to” recruit students at further education colleges who might otherwise have studied a Level 4 or 5 qualification:

“Any Level 3 student in an FE college has a very good chance of getting a place at university and drawing down loans, an increasing number of which, as you know, will never be repaid.”89

91.Julian Gravatt, a deputy chief executive of the Association of Colleges, pointed out that the system encouraged students to bypass these qualifications:

“People who achieve a Level 3 qualification will be accepted by universities for a Level 6 qualification, a degree, so there is no need in our system to stop at Level 4 or 5; people can jump across Levels 4 and 5. At Level 6, there are maintenance loans as well as tuition fee loans, and maintenance loans are not available at Levels 4 and 5.”90

92.The system of funding for higher education is skewed towards full-time undergraduate degrees. With universities receiving their funding almost entirely through tuition fees as a result of the 2012 reforms, they are incentivised to attract as many students as possible paying £9,250 a year for full-time undergraduate degrees. The lack of maintenance loans at Levels 4 and 5 also influences demand for those courses. This is considered further in Chapter 9.

93.Demand for Levels 4 and 5 qualifications is also affected by negative perceptions of the courses and the prioritisation of the undergraduate degree route by schools and in the labour market.

Perceptions of Levels 4 and 5

94.The Association of Colleges said that there were low numbers of students taking Level 4 and 5 courses because “the default choice for young people at 18 obtaining A-Level or Level 3 qualifications is a full-time degree.”91 This was acknowledged by Peter Mucklow, from the Education and Skills Funding Agency:

“the Government recognise that there should be more Level 4 and 5 in further education, and probably in higher education, too. There is a gap. There is provision … with traditional HNCs and HNDs. There have been two-year foundation degrees. None the less, as previous witnesses have said, the currency of the traditional three-year degree course has maintained a sort of primacy.”92

95.Professor Sir Alan Tuckett said ambitious people have little choice when considering higher education options:

“the absence of serious vocational routes at [Levels] 4 and 5 that have cultural respect, investment and security for people means that their choices are either little or a degree, and, if they have any ambition at all, a degree is the route they go down. If you want to change the balance, you have to change the offer.”93

96.Many witnesses suggested that more technical and vocational courses are perceived to be inferior options. The Prime Minister acknowledged this in her speech launching the Government’s review of post-18 education and funding: “there remains a perception that going to university is really the only desirable route, while going into training is something for other people’s children.” 94

97.Lord Baker of Dorking said that every attempt to improve technical education since 1870 had failed “because of parity of esteem. People, not least parents, do not value technical education.”95 Some witnesses believed the lack of esteem for other options was the result of them not being funded sufficiently. Dr Marginson said that although the UK used to have “a strong secondary strand with an emphasis on practical skills, we allowed it largely to erode. The level of esteem for non-university education is proportionate to the level of funding. We have underfunded it.”96

98.The Minister for Apprenticeships and Skills said parity of esteem was not something the Government could bring about. She believed the best way to do it was through schools and saw the recent careers strategy as an important step:

“How do you change the institutional snobbery that is associated with a degree? I did not go to university. I was recently at a very successful independent girls’ school and the head teacher said to me before I spoke to 400 girls, “Could you please say something to these girls about the options out there for them that do not involve Oxford, Cambridge, Durham or Warwick?” That was a breath of fresh air to me.”97

Prioritisation of academic route through higher education

99.Linked to perceptions, we heard that schools are incentivised to push students towards the academic route of sixth form followed by university. The London Borough of Tower Hamlets outlined the problem:

“While there are clear inducements for schools and sixth forms to promote the university option to their high achievers, with local schools using metrics of ‘number of alumni attending elite universities’ to benchmark themselves, limited regard is given to those students who might want to use their education and obvious talents in other directions …

The pattern begins to emerge in pre-16 schools and has become increasingly apparent in recent years as responsibility for delivering impartial careers guidance to all but those deemed “at risk” is devolved to the school. It is not in the financial interest of schools with a sixth form to lose students to colleges or apprenticeships offering technical courses, therefore students, who trust in their teachers, can be encouraged to consider the limited range of options on offer in their own school and not look elsewhere.”98

100.The Confederation of British Industry said that schools receive a higher level of per-pupil funding for sixth form students than for 11 to 16 year old secondary students. This created “an incentive for schools to encourage students to continue in sixth form study rather than pursuing another option, for example a technical qualification, at a different institution.”99 Julian Gravatt said there was a problem with the system that judges teachers “almost entirely on their success in getting pupils to go for an academic route up through A-Levels and into university.”100

101.This emphasis on sixth form followed by university was backed up by evidence we received informally from current students and apprentices:

“I went to a school where if you signalled you wanted to go to college instead of sixth form you got less focus from the teachers. In sixth form if you signalled you didn’t want to go to uni you again got less attention.” (University student)

“If you didn’t want to stay for sixth form they didn’t want to know you.” (Further education student)

“School pretty much says you have to go university or nothing.” (Apprentice)

“Schools pushing university means that students think apprenticeships are rubbish.” (Apprentice)

102.Lord Baker of Dorking said the message was “reinforced by the press and parents, who think it is the right thing to do. We are talking about the first generation whose parents were likely to have been to university. It seems automatic that they should go there too”. Student we spoke to also pointed out that the university route was usually the one their teachers knew and had experienced.

103.We set out reforms to address this in Chapter 7.

Need for undergraduate degree in the labour market

104.One reason for the demand for undergraduate degrees is their so-called ‘signalling effect’ in the labour market. In an article for Prospect magazine in July 2017, Baroness Wolf of Dulwich outlined this:

“People sink time and money into proving, via education, that they are more desirable to employers than others. By having more qualifications, more bits of paper, they should move up shortlists and land interviews … If the chief-effect [of university expansion] is to raise the qualification barrier to a job in back-office accounts, then expansion might already be out of hand … If we continue with higher education business as usual, we risk taking large sums of money from many people for little reward, while for no good reason depriving others, who lack the right piece of paper, of opportunities.”

105.Baroness Wolf told the Committee that university education was not just about ‘signalling’, “but there is an element of it. The more the world is awash with graduates, the more difficult it is for people to know what a degree means other than through signals.”

106.The Minister for Universities and Science said that employers had a “huge role” to play in creating parity of esteem between the different options:

“… if employers have application forms that insist that you have a degree just to pass the sift, do not be surprised if the supply side responds to that. Ultimately, if we get the supply side right and employers respond correctly, we will get parity of esteem.”101

107.The combination of incentives to offer and study for undergraduate degrees has had a negative effect on the provision and demand for other types of higher education.

53 As explained above, higher education also includes qualifications at Level 4 and 5 (such as foundation degrees, HNDs and other technical and vocational courses).

54 Department for Business Innovation & Skills, Higher Education Students at the Heart of the System (June 2011): [accessed 9 May 2018]

55 HC Deb, 3 November 2010, col 924

56 Department for Business Innovation & Skills, Higher Education Students at the Heart of the System (June 2011): [accessed 9 May 2018]

57 Q 2 (Lord Adonis). Tuition fees rose with inflation in 2017/18 but further rises with inflation have been put on hold.

58 Q 22 (Dr Gavan Conlon)

59 See paragraph 346.

60 Institute for Fiscal Studies, Higher Education finance reform: Raising the repayment threshold to £25,000 and freezing the fee cap at £9,250 (October 2017): [accessed 10 May 2018]

61 Q 22 (Dr Andrew McGettigan)

62 2 (Lord Willetts)

63 Q 22 (Dr Andrew McGettigan). Dr Gavan Conlon (Q 22) said that when fees were raised to £3,000 in 2006, “Ministers were told explicitly that there would be no price competition with the £3,000 cap. Essentially, that information was not believed and, lo and behold, when in 2006 fees were raised to £3,000, because of the availability of loans to back that up, every institution in the country chose £3,000.”

65 Q 89 (Lord Baker of Dorking)

66 Q 2 (Lord Willetts)

67 Q 156 (Sam Gyimah MP)

68 Department for Education, Securing student success: risk-based regulation for teaching excellence, social mobility and informed choice in higher education (19 October 2017): [accessed 10 May 2018]

69 Ibid.

70 Q 30 (Dr Andrew McGettigan)

71 Q 29 (Dr Andrew McGettigan)

72 Q 56 (Professor Patrick Bailey)

73 Q 42 (Dr Philippa Lloyd) and Q 165 (Sam Gyimah MP). The Competition and Markets Authority policy paper was examining the impact regulations have on student choice on competition in the higher education sector. Dr Lloyd suggested that perhaps there was little evidence so far as the legislation had only just been put in place to set up an appropriate market regulator. Competition and Markets Authority, An effective regulatory framework for higher education: A policy paper (March 2015): [accessed 11 May 2018]

74 Office for Students, Securing student success: Regulatory framework for higher education in England (February 2018): [accessed 10 May 2018]

75 Written evidence from the Department for Education (HFV0086). The Teaching Excellence Framework is now known as the Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework.

76 Q 74 (Professor Graham Virgo QC)

77 Q 74 (Professor Sir Keith Burnett)

78 Q 74 (Professor Julia Buckingham)

79 Q 74 (Professor James Stirling CBE)

80 Q 165 (Sam Gyimah MP)

81 Thames Valley University in 1994/95

82 Q 74 (Professor Sir Keith Burnett)

83 Q 74 (Professor Julia Buckingham)

84 Q 68 (Professor Mike Thomas)

85 Q 74 (Professor Graham Virgo QC)

86 Q 43 (Dr Philippa Lloyd)

87 Q 46 (Professor Madeleine Atkins). There is significant vocational and technical content in some university courses although this tends to be within honours degrees rather than through other qualifications.

88 Q 153 (Professor Ewart Keep)

89 Q 127 (Richard Atkins CBE)

90 Q 127 (Julian Gravatt)

91 Written evidence from the Association of Colleges (HFV0070); Peter Mucklow from the Education and Skills Funding Agency acknowledged that “The traditional three-year degree course has maintained a sort of primacy.”

92 Q135 (Peter Mucklow)

93 Q 153 (Professor Sir Alan Tuckett). Professor Sir Alan Tuckett is Professor of Education at the University of Wolverhampton and former Chief Executive of the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education

94 Rt Hon Theresa May MP, Speech on The right education for everyone (19 February 2018): [accessed 23 May 2018]

95 Q 82 (Lord Baker of Dorking)

96 Q 34 (Dr Simon Marginson); see also written evidence from Gateshead College (HFV0078).

97 Q 175 (Rt Hon Anne Milton MP)

98 Written evidence from London Borough of Tower Hamlets (HFV0037)

99 Written evidence from Confederation of Business Industry (HFV0089)

100 Q 129 (Julian Gravatt)

101 Q 175 (Sam Gyimah MP)

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