Posted on Fri 05 May 2017 at 10:35 by Lucy Gill
I sit in my office with a very heavy heart this morning as I consider what happened in the House of Commons last week. The shoddy mess that is the Higher Education and Research Bill was rushed through the commons ahead of the General Election, as the Government attempt to ‘wash up’ outstanding debate and policy before going on purdah.
Just how many members of Parliament were in the room to discuss this Bill, you ask? Well, they say a picture speaks a thousand words, so here goes…
Nice to see so many MPs present to fight a Bill that will to pit institutions against one another and set out the law so that the best universities can charge the most for their educations…
Chris, your wonderful Education Officer, and I have been campaigning against all year against the Teaching Excellence Framework and its link to fees. Whilst the government rejected a Lords amendment that would have prevented the TEF being used to set university fees, this link has been delayed and put up for review (yay!). Gordon Marsden, Labour’s shadow Higher Education minister, told the Commons that the independent review was an important concession and that “we will do everything in our power to resist the TEF being used as a Trojan horse for the escalation of fees”.
This review goes to show that, whilst it’s not happened exactly how we want it to yet, when we do campaign against the government, we can be heard and listened to! Chris and I will continue to campaign and input where necessary and wherever possible to prevent this and I’m sure I will do the same with Adam, Education Officer-Elect, next year.
That being said, it’s not all good news on the tuition fees front. Universities will be allowed to put up their fees from September ‘in line with inflation’ year on year until the TEF is in place. This will see our own university fees increase by £250 year on year.
The passing of the bill also creates a powerful new Office for Students as a market-style regulator - think Which.com but for higher education. Initially, this had no student representation but after campaigning hard on this with the NUS and other student officers, we’ve won a seat on this board for someone with Higher Education experience.
Sadly, the government rejected a Lords amendment calling for students to be removed from the target to reduce net migration. This means that international students will be considered in immigration figures, despite this being absolutely absurd in every way!
Like I said, the campaigning isn’t over yet! We will continue to oppose tuition fees & will continue to fight for everyone to have the best education they are academically capable of - and NOT merely the education they can afford!