Posted on Fri 17 Mar 2017 at 13:55 by Lucy Gill
On the 6th March 2017, something massive happened. The House of Lords rejected the link between the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) and increasing fees. This is massive news; our campaigning with MPs and Lords has paid off!
We thought it would be best to explain in a little bit more details what has happened, why it has happened, and what happens next?
What has happened?
After the Higher Education and Research Bill was passed in the Commons in November, it had to go to the Lords for approval. When the Lords received the bill on Tuesday, they made some large amendments. The most notable were:
- Students should be automatically registered in their local constituency to vote when they enter university (which is great news!).
- The metrics of the TEF should not be used to raise tuition fees (which is also great news!).
- International Student numbers should not be used in immigration numbers (which, again, is also great news!)
Why has this happened?
The main reason is simply the TEF doesn’t really work. The metrics that it uses aren’t ace and nobody is really sure what is going to happen. It’s such a faulty project that, if linked to fees, could be a bit of a disaster.
The Lords, however, seem to like the idea of a Teaching Excellence Framework, just not this one. There will also be some that like the idea of increasing fees alongside inflation. Yet currently, the two don’t really match up. Hence, it was sent back down to the Commons for them to have a read.
In regards to international students, the UK is pretty much in support of international students, and are overwhelmingly happy to allow students to stay in the UK and work after they’ve finished their degree  – it’s not like we’ve been saying this for a while… Also, the Thinktank British Future and Universities UK (the representative organisation of universities) massively want to increase international student intake.
What are the next steps?
The amendments will be received by the Commons in about a month’s time. Jo Johnson (the Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation) has a couple of options.
- Have a vote to reject the amendment in the House Commons (probably not what he wants to do).
- Accept the amendments (probably not what he wants to do either).
It is highly unlikely that Jo Johnson will accept the amendment, so he’ll probably go for the first option. However, this means that tuitions fees are once again up for debate. This is great news as it means that Students’ Unions like our can lobby our MPs to accept the amendment.
He also won’t want it to come to the Commons because they’re about to start debating Article 50, which will be loads of business. Not to mention the fact that the Parliamentary Sessions is nearly over! Parliament has a recess known as the Easter and Whitsun Recess. During this time, all business has to be finished. If the business isn’t finished it has to go back to square one. That would mean that Jo Johnson would have to start the process all over again!
What is the Guild doing?
Whilst we are incredibly happy that this amendment has been sent to the Commons, we can’t celebrate for too long. Now our work with MPs and Lords is more important than ever in ensuring that Higher Fees don’t go any further!
- Ellie (Guild President) & Chris (Education Officer)