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Competition and graduate skills to shape decisions on degree powers

Date: May 30 - 2018

Decisions on whether higher education providers in England can offer their own degrees will now be influenced by leaders in market competition and graduate skills.

The Quality Assurance Agency, the independent body for quality and standards in UK higher education, has appointed two new experts to advise on degree awarding powers as regulatory changes come into force in England.

Anne Lambert is on the Board of the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), and Jenny Taylor is Foundation Leader at IBM UK. A third expert adviser, Philip Wilson, will join QAA’s advisory committee in June, representing the interests of independent colleges.

Universities Minister Sam Gyimah said: 'I welcome these appointments, which underscore the importance of considering competition and graduate outcomes when determining which providers are able to award their own degrees.

'Our changes to the higher education system will open up the market to new high-quality providers – increasing choice for students and driving up competition.'

IBM's Jenny Taylor said: 'It's really important that decisions on degree awarding powers should be informed by employer needs as graduate employability is so important for the growth of the UK economy going forward.'

As well as leading IBM UK's award-winning graduate programme, Jenny brings ten years' experience of working with universities and employers in developing relevant degrees and Degree Apprenticeships that result in high employability rates for graduates. 

Anne Lambert said: 'One of the strengths of the UK’s higher education sector is its diversity – of both providers and students. Competition can play a role in strengthening this diversity and help maintain and improve quality to bring even better outcomes for students while recognising the unique features of higher education.'

'We fully support government moves to make it simpler and quicker for high-quality providers to enter English higher education and award their own degrees,' said QAA's Matthew Cott.

'We also recognise the importance of a graduate workforce with the right skills to meet a changing English and world economy.

'Our new advisers will challenge and shape the recommendations we make on degree awarding powers in England.'