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The government is cracking on the HE Bill

Tuesday 25-04-2017 - 17:52

In a major concession to the student movement, the government is delaying the link between the TEF and Fees. Our hard work is paying off, but we must keep the pressure on.

The government has published its proposed concessions on the HE bill following their crushing defeat in the Lords. The amendments show that the government is starting to crack. The concessions are announced following sustained pressure from the student movement and a rebellion in the House of Lords, which saw a record breaking 600 amendments debated.

The government has rejected key amendments from the Lords but has indicated areas in which they may be willing to compromise. While students will be disappointed to see the government have not accepted some of the amendments they have been campaigning for, they will be encouraged that there is movement on key areas and continue to call for their demands to be met in full. The removal of international students from net migration targets, which has been a key point of contention, has not been mentioned in today’s proposals. The government’s failure to compromise on an issue that has such vocal and far-reaching support will leave students and many others in the sector very disappointed.

Amendments proposed today include:

  • Two proposals which will see greater restrictions on degree awarding powers. This will make it harder for private providers with no track record of providing quality education to award degrees.
  • A proposal which will legally require universities to work with electoral registration officers to design their own system for improving student voter registration.
  • A proposed delay until 2020/2021 of government plans to allow the ‘best’ universities to charge higher fees than others. Students have strenuously fought these proposals on the grounds that they could make the highest ranked universities inaccessible to those from lower income backgrounds.
  • A proposal for an independent evaluation of the government’s new ‘Teaching Excellence Framework’ (TEF) after its first year. The TEF would be the ranking system used to raise fees for certain universities, and is intended to measure teaching quality. The TEF has come under heavy criticism from across the sector for being an inaccurate measure of quality.

The Higher Education and Research Bill must return to Parliament this week if it is to pass into law before Parliament dissolves, and is widely rumoured to be returning to the House of Commons tomorrow. We must ramp up the pressure.

What you can do

  • We are asking students to continue lobbying their MPs ahead of the vote tomorrow. You can find more information on the HE Bill and some top lobbying tips here.
  • The NUS NSS Boycott campaign is still ongoing! The boycott has been vital in shaping the debate, and was quoted in the House of Lords debate. You can find all of our boycott resources, including a tool to retract your response, here.

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