While the quality of education on offer in all countries is widely debated, the mechanics and structure to a country's education system often plays a role in determining the quality of the education on offer. This is very much the case in the UK, a country which has in recent years seen the cost of higher-education triple from £3,000 per year, up to the current £9,000 per year cost. With most degrees typically consisting of three years in the UK, this equates to £27,000 for the cost of an average degree. An amount which had lead to wide debate over the value of getting a degree in the UK.
In trying to combat criticism of the cost of education in the UK, today the UK Government set out its forward-thinking plan for education in a whitepaper entitled ‘Success As A Knowledge Economy.’ Part of the proposals revolved around the idea that students will be better informed on what they can expect to get for the cost of their degree, including detailed breakdowns of how students perform once they leave university, figures which are expected to help offer prospective students a better and more informed real-world projection of what they can expect from attending certain universities or undergoing certain courses. However, one of the most interesting proposals being put forward is a focus on introducing a greater array of degree-qualified courses. In short, the proposal looks to offer less-traditional companies, like tech companies including the likes of Google or Facebook, the opportunity to run their own courses which can be awarded as UK degrees (in some cases, their own universities). The suggested changes do not only look to help accredit these institutions to be able to award degrees, but also to help fast track the institutions so that they can “compete on equal terms” with the already-established degree institutions. A move which is being put forward “to improve the overall quality and diversity of the higher education sector” within the UK by offering students “a wider range of institutions.”
In theory, this will open the door for many big tech companies to look at introducing not just their own degree-awarded qualifications, but even their own school of thinking on a much larger scale. The paper draws on the point that the current system is one which is simply too old and outdated and not reflective enough of the current market or student needs and wants, and these degree awarding powers (DAPs) are likely to be aspects which can improve the overall quality and variance of education on offer within the UK. Of course, it will not all be plain sailing for those looking to establish their own degree awards and they will have to still meet the same criteria and endure a probationary period while their educational value and stance is assessed. However, the changes will look to remove the perspective that the best schools are the most traditional ones by offering non-traditional institutions like tech companies the option to compete.