Our important sector-recognised standards are agreed by the UK Standing Committee for Quality Assessment to ensure that degrees equip students with the skills and knowledge required for them to succeed. Provider autonomy on what and how they teach is vital, and we must avoid driving standardisation over innovation. The Office for Students regulates to these agreed standards and investigates any concerns.
For every other serious qualification, any particular grade is worth the same whether a person studied in Truro or in Tadcaster. Even though universities accept the principle of moderating their standards, no employer or student thinks a 2:1 in English or chemistry is worth the same from every university. Does the Minister agree that equally valuable degrees would give a second chance to anyone who does not get into their first-choice university, would wipe out some of the snobbery that still infects parts of our higher-education system, and would level up life chances across the country?
Of course I will consider what my hon. Friend has said, but my priority for higher education was set out in a recent speech—it is skills, jobs and social justice, by which I mean ensuring that disadvantaged people can climb the higher education ladder of opportunity. He will know that the sector regional standards set out the terms of grading and content, but we should judge students on the outcomes: are they getting good skills and are they getting good jobs?