Parliamentary Briefing

Analysis of the HE and research Bill 2016 for Second Reading

15 Jul 2016

The proposals set forward in this Bill seek to alter some of the fundamental structures in the higher education sector, and as such they require intensive scrutiny. The government’s stated intention to introduce an increasingly market-focused and pro-competition system must be examined very closely, including the proposals for new providers and changes to the research architecture.

MillionPlus believes that, although there are some positive steps taken in this Bill, in its current form it poses too many unanswered questions and requires more thought and consultation to achieve its stated objectives. To be truly successful the Bill must ensure that:

  • One body is mandated to ensure holistic oversight of the entire sector
  • The criteria needed to become a university is not relaxed, and that university title is defined, protected and valued
  • Market failure should be mitigated and students remain fully protected
  • University autonomy remains intact, and the role of government is better defined
  • More is done for part-time students
  • Research is valued and balanced funding guaranteed
  • Greater clarity is established on the proposed research architecture
  • UK wide implications of the Bill are fully considered and the subject of consultation

The recent decision of the UK to exit the European Union must also inform scrutiny of this Bill. The environment for higher education institutions throughout the UK has become more uncertain in respect of future staffing, student mobility, research and European structural funds in which universities have been key players. The Bill should therefore be considered in the light of the need to provide greater certainty and continuing investment rather than instability in the future.

Download MillionPlus Higher Education and Research Bill Second Reading Briefing »