Press release

MillionPlus responds to the higher education White Paper

16 May 2016

The Association for Modern Universities MillionPlus has today (16 May) responded to the government’s higher education White Paper, Success as a knowledge Economy: Teaching Excellence, Social Mobility and Student Choice.

Pam Tatlow, Chief Executive of MillionPlus, said:

“Modern universities are long-established centres of higher education in their communities with roots stretching back decades. These universities work with employers, deliver world-leading research and many professionally focused degrees and make a significant contribution to the UK’s global reputation for high quality research-active universities.

The White Paper’s proposals to make it easier to gain university title and degree-awarding powers will need to be carefully considered to ensure that the interests of students are not put at risk. It will also be crucial that the HE White Paper is considered alongside the Skills White Paper that the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) will publish in the summer.

We shall now be seeking to work constructively with Ministers and MPs to ensure that questions arising from the HE White Paper and any HE Bill are subject to full discussion and consideration.”

MillionPlus HE White Paper key questions:

University title and new institutions

  • Will student and taxpayer interests and the UK’s international reputation for high quality universities be undermined by a reduction in the criteria for taught degree-awarding powers and university title?

The Office for Students

  • Will the abolition of the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and its replacement by the Office of Students (OfS) provide additional value for students, employers and universities in England?
  • What governance arrangements will apply to OfS? How will it exercise holistic oversight of the higher education sector if Research England takes over its role in research assessment and allocations?
  • Will the OfS be independent from government or reduced to the role of a regulator like Ofcom, bearing in mind that, unlike HEFCE, it will no longer be funded by BIS but from subscriptions paid by universities and other HE providers?   

Research funding and UK Research and Innovation

  • What governance and funding arrangements will apply to UK Research and Innovation?
  • In particular, will the quality research funding and the postgraduate and PhD students currently funded by HEFCE continue to be supported if research funding is transferred from HEFCE to UK Research and Innovation?
  • What evidence is there that the establishment of Research England will create a more dynamic research and science funding system and what are the implications for the rest of the UK? 

Older students

  • Bearing in mind the link between social mobility and students studying for a university degree later in life, why is the HE White Paper silent on older learners?

The Teaching Excellence Framework and fees

  • How will the link between the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) and fee increases impact on students and universities in the long run?
  • Will the TEF provide an adequate way of judging the quality of teaching bearing in mind the many different ways and environments in which students study?
  • Will the TEF increase administrative costs and hinder innovation?

Link with Skills White Paper

  • How will the Skills White Paper impact on the HE White Paper and vice versa?

Costs vs direct investment

  • What are the short- and long-term costs for students, universities, the government and stakeholder organisations of implementing the new structures and governance arrangements?
  • Will administrative costs increase and might these resources be better invested directly into university teaching, research and student support?

UK-wide implications

  • What are the implications of the White Paper and any HE Bill for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland?


Notes to editors

  1. MillionPlus is the Association for Modern Universities. More information can be found at
  2. For further information or to arrange an interview, please contact Dan Blows on 020 7717 1658 or email
  3. The White Paper: Success as a Knowledge Economy is available here