OfS probe quality of eight business and management courses

The minister for HE and FE said she was pleased to see the regulator undertake “boots-on-the-ground investigations” of suspected poor-quality courses

The Office for Students has launched investigations into the quality of eight business and management courses – but will not name the institutions involved until inquiries conclude.

The regulator for higher education in England has some 413 registered providers on its books. Today, it revealed that eight of them are subject to probes launched under powers acquired by the regulator in May to set “conditions for quality”.

The OfS will consider whether the courses at eight universities and colleges meet these conditions, specifically whether “poor quality online learning has replaced face-to-face teaching to the detriment of students’ academic experience”. The regulator said it would consider the delivery of courses, efficacy of assessments, learning resources, academic support and the number of student contact hours in its findings.

A team of “experienced academics” have been recruited to lead the investigative work, the OfS said of its methods.

This is the first wave of a package of boots-on-the-ground investigations that the Secretary of State and I have asked the OfS to deliver
– Michelle Donelan, minister for higher and further education

Susan Lapworth, OfS interim chief executive, said it was “right for the OfS to consider whether some universities and colleges are selling students short”. Business and management courses account for around 400,000 students at OfS-registered providers, “and they are entitled to expect a high-quality experience regardless of the provider they choose”, said Lapworth.

The OfS may have chosen to focus on business and administration courses because they account for one of the largest subject groups in HE by student enrolment. The probe “sends a clear message” to universities, Lapworth said.

“The launch of these investigations signals a shift for the OfS to active regulation,” Lapworth said, adding she was “ready to require improvement and to consider imposing sanctions”.

A spokesperson for the Department for Education said the minister for higher and further education was “pleased” to see her calls for the OfS to “step up its investigations” has been “actioned”.

Michelle Donelan, the cabinet attendee with the brief for HE and FE, said: “This is the first wave of a package of boots-on-the-ground investigations that the Secretary of State and I have asked the OfS to deliver, focusing on ensuring students receive sufficient face-to-face contact hours, are on high quality, stretching courses and are assessed rigorously and fairly.”


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