Queen’s Speech: bill planned for lifelong loans and entry bars

Plan for legislation seems to firm up government plans for minimum entry requirement and student number controls

五月 10, 2022

The Westminster government will introduce a Higher Education Bill to implement its lifelong loan entitlement (LLE) in England and, “subject to consultation”, a minimum entry requirement to study in higher education as well as student number controls.

In a briefing note to accompany the Queen’s Speech, which sets out the government’s legislative programme for the coming Parliament, the government says there will be a Higher Education Bill intended to “ensure that our post-18 education system promotes real social mobility, helping students onto pathways in which they can excel, and is financially sustainable”.

The bill will enable the introduction of the LLE, already announced by ministers and elements of which are already covered in existing legislation, which will provide individuals with a loan entitlement “equivalent to four years of post-18 education (£37,000 in today’s fees) that they can use over their lifetime for a wider range of studies, including shorter and technical courses”.

The main elements of the bill are described as being to ensure that “appropriate fee limits can be applied more flexibly to higher education study within the lifelong loan entitlement and that they can be effectively regulated”.

Meanwhile, “subject to the conclusion of the higher education reform consultation”, the bill will include “setting minimum qualification requirements for a person living in England to be eligible to get student finance support to enter higher education, helping to ensure students can pursue the best post-18 education and training options for them by taking pathways through which they can excel”.

In addition, also subject to the conclusion of the consultation, the bill will include provisions “fulfilling the manifesto commitment to tackle uncontrolled growth of low-quality courses by taking specific powers to control numbers of students entering higher education at specific providers in England”.

The government’s consultation on minimum entry requirements and student number controls – which have both drawn strong opposition from universities – closed on 6 May.

In the consultation, the government says it has not decided whether to introduce student number controls. And in February, universities minister Michelle Donelan said the proposal for a minimum entry requirement to English higher education was the “start of a conversation” and it “isn’t necessarily the case” that it will be introduced.

However, in the Queen’s Speech briefing notes, the government appears to be taking a firmer position that both plans are likely to go ahead.

The briefing note also includes the Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill, which was carried over from the last session of Parliament after stalling.

Another bill that may have a bearing on higher education and students’ unions is a Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions Bill intended to “stop public bodies from adopting their own approach to international relations”, amid “concerns that such boycotts may legitimise and drive antisemitism as these types of campaigns overwhelmingly target Israel”.

The briefing note says: “Unofficial boycotts have gone beyond those directed at a particular state and contribute to the horrific rise in antisemitism in the UK – including Kosher food being removed from supermarket shelves, Jewish films being banned from a film festival and a student union holding a vote on blocking the formation of a Jewish student society.”

There is also a Genetic Technology (Precision Breeding) Bill, which will enable “precision breeding technologies to improve the sustainability, resilience, and productivity of agricultural systems”. The briefing adds: “Technologies such as gene editing have the potential to increase disease resistance in crops, which can reduce pesticide use, lower costs to farmers and increase food production.” The bill will foster innovation “to help us cement our place as a science superpower”, the briefing note says.




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