The higher education market

Government provides £9 billion a year of up-front funding for higher education (HE). As the balance of this funding has shifted away from teaching grants towards tuition fee loans, market mechanisms such as student choice and provider competition play an increasingly important role in supporting public policy objectives including value for money. This study examines how the HE market is operating, with a particular focus on the extent to which students are currently empowered to act as effective consumers. It will also consider the potential impacts of ongoing reforms.

The study will ask in particular:

•             Is the Department for Education maximising students’ ability to make informed and effective choices, both before and during their courses?

•             Does the Department understand the financial or other incentives on higher education providers and how these support public policy objectives?

•             Do existing complaints and redress arrangements offer adequate protection for students?

•             Is the Department ensuring there are effective continuity arrangements in place to protect students when providers fail or exit the sector?

If you would like to provide evidence for our study please email the study team on enquiries@nao.gsi.gov.uk, putting the study title in the subject line. The team will consider the evidence you provide; however, please note that due to the volume of information we receive we may not respond to you directly. If you need to raise a concern please use our contact form.