UK universities offer less value for money: Audit

UK universities continue to attract thousands of students from India and elsewhere. But a new report by the National Audit Office (NAO) has revealed that many students believe their courses do not offer value for money or offer poor value.

In the context of higher education increasingly seen as a market and students as consumers, the NAO said if universities were seen as banks, mis-selling and lack of consumer satisfaction would be an issue.


  1. While the NAO report focuses on UK and EU students, most Indian students return satisfied with their courses, but complaints about courses being less challenging or offering less than expected value are not unknown.
  2. UK universities have faced deep funding cuts since 2010, leading to closure of several departments, staff retrenchment and dwindling funds for research.
  3. This makes recruitment of Indian and other international students crucial, since they typically pay more than three times the fees applicable to UK and EU students.
  4. The NAO report said only 32% of students from England consider their courses offer value for money, down from 50% in 2012. 5. This figure is the lowest in the UK. Furthermore, 37% of students from England considered their course offered poor value.


NAO head Amyas Morse said: “We are deliberately thinking of higher education as a market, and as a market, it has a number of points of failure. Young people are taking out substantial loans to pay for courses without much effective help and advice, and the institutions concerned are under very little competitive pressure to provide best value. “If this was a regulated financial market we would be raising the question of mis-selling. The Department is taking action to address some of these issues, but there is a lot that remains to be done.”

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