Lords examines Higher Education and Research Bill

Research microscope
31 January 2017

The Higher Education and Research Bill concluded its committee stage, the first chance for line by line scrutiny, in the Lords on Monday 30 January.

Members discussed the reporting functions of UK Research and Innovation, the autonomy of research councils and the duties of the Secretary of State for Education.

Report stage, a further chance to examine the bill and make changes, is yet to be scheduled.

Lords committee stage day six: Wednesday 25 January

Members discussed registrations fees, punishments for cheating offences and protection for students with certain immigration statuses.

Lords committee stage day five: Monday 23 January

Members discussed powers to restrict enrolment, equal opportunities for students and the representative bodies for higher education (HE) providers.

Lords committee stage day four: Wednesday 18 January

Members discussed HE and care leavers, blind marking of dissertations and blind assessment of applications, and contingency arrangements if an HE provider's registration is suspended.

Lords committee stage day three: Monday 16 January

Members discussed enrolment and registration conditions, mental health support, and accelerated degrees and flexible provision.

Lords committee stage day two: Wednesday 11 January

Members discussed subjects including widening of access and participation within HE, part-time and distance learning, and the establishment of a joint committee between the Office of Students and UK Research and Innovation.

Lords committee stage day one: Monday 9 January

Members discussed subjects including the Office for Students, the functions of UK universities and the principle of institutional autonomy, and there was one division (vote) on a proposed change to the bill.  

Members of the Lords discussed an amendment that inserted a definition of the functions and principles of universities and their contribution to society. There was a vote on this change, with 248 members voting for and 221 voting against. This meant the change to the bill was made. 

Lords second reading: 6 December 2016 

Higher Education and Research Bill

This bill will aim to:

  • establish a new regulatory body called the Office for Students (OfS)
  • integrate the current seven research councils, along with Innovate UK, into a new body called United Kingdom Research and Innovation (UKRI)
  • establish non-interest bearing finance options for students
  • open up the higher education sector with the aim of encouraging more competition and choice by making it easier for new high-quality providers to start up and achieve degree awarding powers, and subsequently secure university status
  • put in place risk-based regulation with the aim that the higher education sector serves its stakeholders: students, employers and taxpayers
  • recognise and reward high-quality teaching by enabling the Office for Students to implement a Teaching Excellence Framework
  • bring greater transparency to the data held by the higher education sector, to inform choice and promote equality of opportunity

Further information

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