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An update on teaching excellence and the upcoming Green Paper

Monday 12-10-2015 - 09:24

Much has been said in blogs and articles and speeches about the current plans from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills over the past few weeks and months, much of it speculation, very little of it fact. However, in light of the fact that the Green Paper will likely include a significant shake up of the HE sector, we wanted to highlight some of the things that are likely to be included.

When will it be?

It is widely expected that the Green Paper to be published in mid-October, so perhaps as early as next week.

What will it include?

It has been widely trailed by Jo Johnson that the Green Paper will include plans for a “Teaching Excellence Framework”. Whilst plans for how this will work are not yet public, many within the sector are discussing a scheme that supports institutions to continue to improve – so a system of working towards bronze, silver or gold awards, for example. Despite overwhelming opposition from the sector, the Minister appears committed to attaching tuition fees rises to the framework in some form. In addition, measures for the TEF will probably include some aspects of the National Student Survey and graduate employment data. Whether these predictions come to pass remains to be seen.
NUS opposes the implementation of a Teaching Excellence Framework, and we will be providing resources for unions to campaign against it in the weeks after the publication.

In addition to this, it is likely that the Green Paper will include a number of other aspects of HE. There will probably be a section addressing access and widening participation and also regulation and student protections. NUS has been working with HEFCE and other sector bodies over the past few months to develop a statement of good practice on student protections. It outlines how students should be protected and supported if something goes wrong on their course, and will hopefully be published in the near future.

Finally, it is highly likely that the Green Paper will include proposals to make it easier for private and alternative providers to gain access to public funds and gain degree awarding powers. Such proposals must also be considered in the context of current proposals by the funding councils to make checks on the quality of institutions far more light touch. Students’ unions had a fantastic response to the consultation, and have made yourselves powerful in the debate about how to take quality forward, so if your opinions change in light of the Green Paper proposals you should make your concerns heard.

It is important to note that whilst some aspects of the Green Paper will be England only, most of it will have implications and impacts on the other UK Nations. NUS will be working with the offices at NUS Wales, Scotland and NUS-USI to make sure all students are represented and supported.

What next?

NUS plans to publish a short summary of the Green Paper as soon after its publication as possible. Following this, there will be a webinar on teaching excellence and quality on 20th Oct. We will also publish campaigning materials that week (N.B this does depend on precisely when the Paper is published). Finally, we will be holding Green Paper discussion days in the North & South of England in mid-November, with details will be published shortly.

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