n. 轨道,弹道 /trə'dʒektəri/
adj. 大胆的,放肆的 /ɔː'deɪʃəs/
adj. 神经过敏的, 战战兢兢的 /'dʒɪtəri/
n. 梯形, 梯队 /'eʃəlɒn/
n. 保存,保留 /rɪ'tenʃn/
The value of university degrees will be hard to measure（591 words）
By Miranda Green
We are in, says Sam Gyimah, the higher education minister, “the age of the student”. On Monday, he announced changes to the league tables that show potential students how well UK universities compare in both teaching quality and future career prospects. For the first time, they will allow young people to compare courses, not just the institutions.
A competition for tech companies was also launched, inviting designs for an app: ministers want short-cuts for young people to check on the earnings return and career trajectory they can expect from studying a particular subject at a particular university.
It is easy to see why the Conservatives, cornered by an occasionally vague but electorally popular promise from Labour to “deal with” student debt, would like to transform themselves into the higher education sector’s consumer champions. But this will be a hard trick for the governing party to pull off.
For one thing, shifting the blame from students and graduates discontented about their loans away from the politicians who designed the system is audacious. Mr Gyimah has been noticeably keen to talk up the rare cases of students suing their degree providers.
When it comes to the details of designing a better accountability framework, ministers will have to deal with a jittery sector and a hostile university workforce. Lecturers feel undervalued enough to strike over their pensions, while vice chancellors and their management echelon have lost authority over the pension dispute and objections to their sky-high pay.
The main problem, however, remains with the data: how do you measure value-for-money when much of a university’s reputation (and hence the prestige and career-boost of its degrees) derives from research and from how selective it is on entry?
The main collection of data on the student experience, the Teaching Excellence Framework, is particularly controversial. Introduced last year, it was the first attempt to introduce a metric for return on investment at university, awarding gold, silver or bronze marks to institutions. A survey by Universities UK, the sector’s umbrella body, found that only 2 per cent of respondents saw the TEF as an accurate assessment of teaching and learning excellence.
After pilot schemes over the next two years, the TEF will include more detail on individual subjects to, in the Department for Education’s words, “shine a light on course quality”. That way, ministers claim, potential applicants can see which are “coasting or relying on their research reputation”.
This is confrontational language. Academics already resent the fact that student feedback data, which is subjective and can show bias (for example against female lecturers), feeds into the TEF. Graduate employment and student retention rates are also already included. The pilots of the subject-level measures will now also look at class sizes and the number of hours contact with teachers — useful information, but again no measure of how prestigious a degree is considered to be by the world at large.
This is all designed to “help applicants make better choices”, says the government. But some educationalists have questioned the data around graduate earnings, which ought to be a key ingredient of any return on investment measure. Family background is still, for example, hugely significant in boosting graduate earnings, as is prior school attainment and which region you live in.
But as Mr Gyimah warned this month, accountability is not just “a blip”. If the higher education sector believes the government’s data are misleading, it may have to come up with better-designed measures. Or hope that the tech competition throws up an app that improves significantly on the current league tables.
一、Higher education minister in the UK announced the new league tables to ____.
show students how well UK universities compare in future career prospects.
introduce subject-level metrics for students to compare courses directly.
allow potential students to compare institutions at a particular university.
introduce a metric for earnings return on investment at universities in the UK.
二、According to the author, what is the main problem with UK's higher education accountability system?
The economic data of an university is not equal to its academic reputation.
The system has to deal with a jittery sector and a hostile university workforce.
Few people in the UK see it as an accurate assessment of teaching excellence.
The system focuses too much on teaching excellence instead of career-boost.
三、Why does the TEF spark anger among academics?
Because TEF includes few useful information on student retention rates.
Because TEF includes too much redundant detail on individual subjects.
Because feedback data from students tend to be subjective and misleading.
Because TEF only collects data around employment and graduate earnings.
四、Which of the following is not a factor affecting the TEF assessment?
Graduate employment rates.