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Lords debate report on the modernisation of higher education in Europe

The House of Lords will debate the findings of a report on the modernisation of higher education in Europe on Thursday 11 October. The report was published in March 2012 following a six-month long inquiry by the Lords EU Sub Committee on social policies and consumer protection.

The report, The Modernisation of Higher Education in Europe, called on the Government to overcome the UK's lack of mobility culture, and recommended making language learning compulsory in primary and secondary schools. It also found that the UK's future participation in mobility programmes, such as the EU's Erasmus scheme could not be assured, particularly when coupled with financial, socioeconomic and cultural barriers.

The debate will be opened by Baroness Young of Hornsey (Crossbench), former Chairman of the Sub-Committee, which has now been disbanded. Ahead of the debate, she said:

“After last week's Times Higher Education World Rankings showed a drop in the number of UK universities in the top 100, this debate on the modernisation of higher education in Europe gives Members a timely opportunity to debate how the EU can help preserve the competitiveness of Europe's higher education sector in the face of strong competition from Asia.

“As our investigation discovered, the EU can continue to play a significant role in helping Member States modernise their higher education systems, in addition to the ongoing role of the Bologna Process, but it must be realistic about what it can achieve. It should concentrate on areas where it can truly add value and not lose sight of Member States' primary role in education policy.

“However, the Government too has a role to play, in placing higher education at the heart of their growth agenda in order to maintain and contribute to the economic and social wealth of the UK and Europe as a whole. In the next few months, this could be achieved if they supported a greater proportion of EU budget being allocated to research, innovation and education, including the Erasmus programme, which is likely to yield significant benefits for the UK in particular."

Other Members scheduled to speak include:

  • Lord Bhattacharyya (Labour), Professor of Manufacturing and Director of the Warwick Manufacturing Group, Warwick University;
  • Baroness O'Neill of Bengarve (Crossbench), former Professor of philosophy at Essex and Columbia universities;
  • Baroness Sharp of Guildford (Liberal Democrat), former Party Spokesperson for Higher Education, member of the Association of University Teachers and member of the corporation of Guildford College of Further and Higher Education;
  • Baroness Warwick of Undercliffe (Labour), former Chief Executive of Universities UK;
  • Viscount Hanworth (Labour), Professor of Econometrics and Computational Statistics, Department of Economics at the University of Leicester; and
  • Lord Hunt of Chesterton (Labour), Visiting Professor at Hong Kong University.

Lord Judd (Labour), Lord Hannay of Chiswick (Crossbench), Baroness Coussins (Crossbench), Lord Bew (Crossbench), Lord Bilimoria (Crossbench), Lord Giddens (Labour) and Viscount Bridgeman (Conservative), are also expected to take part in the debate.

Baroness Garden of Frognall (Liberal Democrat), will respond on behalf of the Government. 

The debate, expected to start at around 4.30pm, is an opportunity for members of the Committee and the House to discuss recommendations made in the report, as well as recent developments in this area. 

The report, The Modernisation of Higher Education in Europe, published on 22 March 2012, can be found on the website, along with the Government's response.

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