Universities in England to face watchdog reviewInvestigation into degree course value-for-money launched

22 October 2013


The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has today launched a review into how universities in England deliver value-for-money and meet students' expectations.

The consumer watchdog will review the undergraduate higher education sector, including how universities compete for students, set tuition fees and determine how courses should be delivered and has called for information from students, institutions, employers and regulators. 

It will also look into whether students have access to the right information to make well-informed choices about what and where to study and whether appropriate channels exist for complaints and redress if things go wrong.

Which? University is our free and independent website to help students find the right undergraduate course and university for them. 

Better information for students

Which? head of public services Sonia Sodha said: 'We're pleased the OFT is looking into choice and competition in higher education and we hope this leads to an improvement in the quality of university courses. Our comparisons with previous decades show that today's students are working for fewer hours, are set less work and are receiving less detailed feedback.

'With increased tuition fees, and a greater choice of universities and courses than ever before, it's essential that students can access better information about the academic experience on offer, so they can see whether they are getting value for money.'

The university academic experience

Back in May, Which? research - in partnership with the Higher Education Policy Institute - revealed significant variations in scheduled teaching time at universities, with students at some universities getting as much as double the amount of contact hours as others doing the same subject elsewhere.

We also found that the total student workload - the combined hours students spend in private study and scheduled teaching - averages 30 hours a week, 25% less than official guidelines, raising concerns over standards.

You can compare contact hours and class sizes across different universities and subjects with our contact hours comparison tool on the Which? University website.

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