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HE Bill: where are we up to and what’s next?

Thursday 20-10-2016 - 14:54

It’s overwhelmingly clear that students and students’ unions have already had a huge impact on the debates in the HE Bill. But the fight definitely isn’t over yet. Here’s a round up of what’s happened so far and what’s happening next in the Parliamentary process and what you can do about it.

On Tuesday 18 October the Public Bill Committee held its last session for the HE Bill.

The committee was made up of 20 MPs from a range of political parties. Their role was to scrutinise the Bill line by line and propose any changes that needed to be made.

Ahead of this, the committee heard evidence from a range of experts, including Sorana Vieru, NUS Vice President (Higher Education). See how we secured a spot at the committee here.

Clearly, this evidence and the lobbying work of students’ unions had a significant impact on the committee:

  • NUS was mentioned 37 times throughout the committee debates (more than any other sector body)
  • Seventeen amendments submitted or supported by NUS to the Bill Committee were debated.
  • Students’ unions and NUS ensuring the most contentious debate of the session was about the decision to raise tuition fees
  • Jo Johnson, Minister for Higher Education, publicly committed to meeting with NUS to discuss student protections
  • Jo Johnson also agreed to further discuss student voter registration with Paul Blomfield, MP for Sheffield Central

Despite the above, the government refused to accept a single amendment – including one supported by NUS and the Refugee Council trying to remove barrier for access to education for refugees.

The fight is clearly not over yet, and now students have a third chance to pressure the government to change their minds on the things we care about.

Up next is the Report stage and the Third reading of the Bill. These will both take place after one another on a yet-to-be-announced date.

The Report stage is the final time the House of Commons can propose amendments to the Bill and the Third reading is the final debate on the Bill as a whole, before it goes to the House of Lords.

We’ve put together guidance on how to arrange a meeting with your local MP and find resources for campaigning on your campus. These are available here.

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