Universities who are judged to offer “poor quality” courses are set to face tough regulation and fines under new proposals.

The Office for Students (OfS) published a consultation on Thursday (January 20) which detailed that it will set thresholds for the number of students who drop out of courses.

Additionally, ratings of university teaching will include a new “requires improvement” category as well as ratings of gold, silver and bronze.

The OfS said it is looking to stop students receiving a “performance that is below our minimum expectations”, given they “are likely to be paying substantial sums”.

At least 80% of students should continue studying into their second year of an undergraduate degree, it said, 75% should finish their degree, and 60% should go on to further study or professional employment.

The Northern Echo: Several aspects of a university course will be judged (PA)Several aspects of a university course will be judged (PA)

Universities not meeting the thresholds could be investigated, face fines, or have their access to student loan cash restricted.

This will be part of a Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) that will take place over a four year cycle and see universities rated gold, silver or bronze.

Universities not meeting those standards would be rated “requires improvement”, with the figures for teaching and continuation published every year.

If universities did not take part in the TEF, had their rating suspended, or were rated as “requires improvement” they would not be able to charge as much money.

Why does the Office for Students want this plan in place?

Nicola Dandridge, chief executive of the OfS, said: “These proposals mark a landmark moment in our work to tackle poor quality provision in English higher education.

“Students from all backgrounds deserve to be on good courses leading to qualifications which stand the test of time and prepare them well for life after graduation.

“Many universities and colleges in England run high quality 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.”