The independent regulator for higher education, Office for Students (OfS), is starting a crackdown on degrees that offer little value to students.

The courses targeted by OfS will include those with low rates of graduate employment and high drop-out rates.

The regulator warns that universities and colleges failing to meet minimum requirements could face investigation. As a result of an investigation, colleges and universities could be subject to fines and restrictions on access to student loan funding.

To assess the value of courses the OfS has set three minimum thresholds which include:

  • 60% of students to go into professional employment or further study.
  • 80% of students to continue into the second year of study.
  • 75% of students to complete their qualification.

Universities UK,  representing universities in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, stated that universities should use several core measures to identify poor quality university degrees.

The OfS states in its press release “Students studying on courses below the thresholds are often from groups underrepresented in higher education and the OfS’s proposals are designed to ensure that providers must support the students they recruit to achieve positive outcomes, regardless of their background.”

OfS chief executive Nicola Dandridge said: “Many universities and colleges in England run high qaility courses that deliver positive outcomes for students. The thresholds that we have proposed will not affect them. They are instead designed to target those poor quality courses and outcomes which are letting students down and don’t reflect students’ ambition and effort.”

Higher and Further Education Minister Michelle Donelan said: “Students deserve an education that will help them achieve their dreams, so we need to crack down on those universities that are not delivering this ambition. Our university system is acclaimed as world-class, but there are too many pockets of poor quality.”