A Government move to "drive up" standards in higher education will see eight universities inspected, it was announced today (Thursday, May 26).

The investigations, launched on Thursday and focused on business courses, are the first in a series of “boots on the ground” inspections announced by Higher and Further Education Minister Michelle Donelan earlier this year.

These inspections will look at teaching quality at institutions, as well as whether they are failing to deliver face to face teaching or address high dropout rates.

Additionally, the inspection of eight business and management courses will include an examination of “whether poor quality online learning has replaced face to face teaching to the detriment of students’ academic experience”, the Office for Students said.

East Kilbride Connect: The eight universities have not yet been named (Canva)The eight universities have not yet been named (Canva)

They will also look at whether courses meet the OfS’s new quality standards which came into effect in May.

Inspectors will also consider the effectiveness of course teaching and students’ contact hours, as well as if students receive “sufficient” learning resources and academic support, with experienced academics leading the inspections.

The OfS is not naming the universities and colleges under investigation but expects to publish further details later on.

Ms Donelan told the PA news agency that the OfS had chosen the eight institutions on the basis of a “range of factors” including student feedback from the notification process and the National Student Survey, as well as outcome data, dropout rates and other intelligence which revealed “a great variation in that subject provision”.

She added that while student feedback was only one factor, areas explored “will include absolutely face to face provision and the quality of teaching, but also the wider support that is given in these subjects”.

The OfS will also look at grade inflation in its future inspections.