Higher Education and Research Bill

It is my view and that of the Labour Party that there are substantial parts of the Bill which need radical improvement. As such we outright reject particular parts of this Bill.

This Bill produces 20th Century answers to the problems faced in the 21st Century. It is based on market-led ideology and not reflecting the challenges of change within Higher Education and the post-Brexit world.

We have opposed this Bill due to its unsatisfactory nature and this has now only been enhanced since Brexit.

The Bill deregulates the establishment of new universities allowing them to take on degree-awarding powers from the minute they are established. We do not support this. The threat of marketization and poorly regulated new providers threatens the quality of our Higher Education sector.

The Government wants to allow the top achieving universities on the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) to raise tuition fees in line inflation. We deeply oppose any potential link because it jeopardises the internationally competitive nature of Higher Education providers across England and the devolved nations that has occurred due to being seen as part of a tried and trusted UK brand.

This is a Bill that talks about Social Mobility but the actions of Government to date do not match the rhetoric.

On top of this, students have already been hit over the last twelve months by the scrapping of maintenance grants, freezing of the student loan threshold and the removing of NHS bursaries, damaging social mobility for the most disadvantaged students.

However, we welcome the recent concessions made by the Government. For example, we support the change to allow proper student representation on the body of the Office for Students, and we support the change allowing the OFS to have a duty related to monitoring the financial sustainability of the sector.

We continue to support the attempts made to improve social mobility, including the introduction of a transparency duty for university admissions.