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Governance News: Office for Students value for money strategy 2019 to 2021

Issued: 18 October 2019

The Office for Students has published its value for money strategy. The strategy has four priorities. Feedback from students will be central to the OfS assessment of whether students and graduates are judged to have received value for money (VFM). The OfS “has a statutory duty to have regard to the need to promote value for money”. As a consequence, VFM is one of the OfS’s primary objectives.

OfS’s priorities

Drawing on the results of previously published research, the OfS has identified four priorities on VFM, namely:

  • Improving teaching quality
  • Protecting students as consumers
  • Increasing transparency
  • Securing positive employment outcomes

Measuring VFM

Measurement of VFM will be based upon:

  • The perceptions of students and graduates
  • Statistics relating to the student experience and employment (eg results from National Student Survey, Longitudinal Education Outcome data)

Assessment of VFM

Accepting VFM is a complex and contested concept. The OfS suggests the term should be considered in terms of:

  • Positive feedback from students
  • Effective consumer protection
  • The return on investment for public spending

The OfS states “student and graduate perceptions” will be its primary measure of VFM. As a consequence, OfS intends to survey students and graduates about their views on VFM. The intention is to develop the means to “regularly poll students”.

Sector analysis

The OfS suggests “providers that deliver the best experience and outcomes for students should be able to expand”. OfS indicates that it will “develop measures that evaluate progress in achieving this”. Alongside, the OfS will “monitor the long-term trends in the unit of resource”.


Governors and governing bodies should take note that student perceptions and statistical data on student participation, experience and outcomes will play an increasing part in the OfS assessment of whether a provider is judged to be offering its students and graduates value for money.

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