The government has today (19 May 2016) published its Higher Education and Research Bill, introducing new legislation to give more young people the opportunity to access high-quality university education and boost life chances and opportunity for all.
In one of the first bills after the Queen’s Speech, it will enact the reforms in the white paper, Success as a Knowledge Economy, published this week.
New legislation will enable the government to make it easier for ‘challenger institutions’ to award their own degrees, and give students more information about teaching standards and job prospects to help them make better informed decisions about what and where to study.
The Teaching Excellence Framework will create clear, reputational and financial incentives for universities to raise teaching standards and focus on helping students from all backgrounds into employment or further study. The bill will for the first time, link the funding of university to teaching quality, and not simply quantity of students.
Universities and Science Minister Jo Johnson said:
Our universities are engines of economic growth and social mobility, but if we are to remain competitive and ensure that a high-quality education remains open to all, we cannot stand still. Making it easier for high-quality challenger institutions to start offering their own degrees will help drive up teaching quality, boost the economy and extend aspiration and life chances for students from all backgrounds.
By creating the Office for Students, we will put student choice, teaching quality and social mobility at the top of the agenda in higher education. With UK Research and Innovation we’re creating a strong voice for our world-class knowledge base and ensuring the UK is ready to lead the world in multi-disciplinary research where some of the most exciting breakthroughs are taking place.
The bill will also establish the Office for Students as the single regulator for the HE sector. The OFS will put student choice, teaching quality and social mobility at the top of the agenda in higher education.
This will include a statutory duty on higher education institutions to publish detailed information about application, offer and progression rates, broken down by ethnicity, gender and socio-economic background – bringing about a transparency revolution in higher education.
To preserve the world-class reputation and quality of our universities, the bill will also enable the Office for Students to take swift, effective regulatory action where new HE providers are failing to deliver high quality education.
Through this bill we will cement the UK’s position as a world-leader on the research and innovation stage and maximise value for money from government’s investment of over £6 billion per annum in research and innovation.
We are delivering Sir Paul Nurse’s vision by bringing together the 7 Research Councils into a single body. We are integrating Innovate UK within this structure while keeping its distinctive business focus and separate funding, along with the research functions currently performed by HEFCE. And we will, for the first time ever, use primary legislation to enshrine the dual support research funding system in England - which is at the heart of much of our research excellence success.
The government also announced that it is reappointing both Tim Melville-Ross (the Chair of HEFCE) and Professor Ebdon (the Director of Fair Access) so that they serve until the creation of the Office for Students and UK Research and Innovation.