Are Foundation Year Courses Value for Money?
Value for money is a term that has, and continues to be, applied to Higher Education in the UK. Universities are held to account in terms of the quality of their provision and the student outcomes achieved. The aim of this paper is to investigate how value for money is defined and who value is being measured for, focusing on Foundation Year courses. Various measures are employed to define value for money, but they share common features: a focus on student judgment and metrics such as progression, retention and graduate outcomes. Students are the main focus when value for money is being discussed, and there are many immediate benefits (increased confidence, improved completion) as well as longer term benefits (improved wages, health and societal engagement) in being a university student. There is an investment on the part of the student and society, but the returns outweigh the initial outlay financially and socially. The implications of this study include the need to design a measure of value for money that considers the long term as well as immediate benefits of Higher Education, in particular through Foundation Year provision, improving education on what student debt entails for students and their parents and more tailored support for non-traditional learners.