The UK government has published its 2016 HE White Paper, entitled Success as a Knowledge Economy: Teaching Excellence, Social Mobility and Student Choice. But what does it mean for universities, colleges and higher education institutions? What does the Higher Education and Research Bill look like?
The teaching excellence framework (TEF) has made headlines, and the White Paper expands on the plans to introduce this in England. But the proposals, confirmed in the 2016 Queen's speech, are far more wide-reaching, and address: widening participation; opening up the higher education market; and boosting research and innovation.
According to universities and science minister Jo Johnson and his team, the proposals outlined in the White Paper will:
- Make it easier to set up "high quality" universities in order to give students more choice
- Drive institutions to improve the quality of teaching and ensure they are producing employable graduates
- Ensure universities deliver higher education that is value for money
What do the higher education White Paper and HE Bill mean?
HE Bill / Queen's Speech 2016
- Higher education bill seeks powerful Office for Students
New regulator, the OfS, will promote market, distribute grants, award university status and have power to enter premises with warrant. It will oversee not just the regime for quality, as Hefce did, but also standards. The 2016 HE bill focuses on transferring the authority to grant degree awarding powers and university title from the Privy Council to the OfS.
- HE bill ‘will face substantial opposition in Parliament
The Higher Education and Research Bill will meet with “substantial opposition” and may not make it through the House of Commons
- Higher Education and Research Bill announced in Queen’s Speech
Government plans to make it ‘easier’ for new universities to launch. The bill also places more information into the hands of students, by requiring universities to publish detailed information about application, offer and progression rates, broken down by ethnicity, gender and socio-economic background.
- The Queen’s Speech 2016: higher education sector responds
Key figures respond to the Queen’s HE announcements.
HE White Paper news
- Higher education White Paper: key points at a glance
Your HE White Paper 2016 cheat sheet. Everything you need to know about the Conservative government's higher education proposals.
- GPA adopted more widely, but White Paper may dampen interest
More UK universities are set to start operating the grade point average system, but the higher education White Paper may have dealt a blow to hopes that it could be adopted widely
- HE White Paper: tuition fees could go down as well as up under TEF
Vice-chancellors remain concerned about reputation impact of dividing universities into three tiers: meets expectations, excellent, and outstanding. Tuitoin fee caps will be based on institutions’ current performance in the TEF, the paper says, meaning that providers will not be able to “bank” positive performance in previous years.
- What the higher education White Paper means for research
Research councils, Innovate UK and QR funding will be brought under one new body. A “common research fund” is to be set up to promote interdisciplinary research as part of a shake-up to the research system.
- TEF link to fees stays, but will be phased in
Link between performance in the teaching excellence framework and tuition fees has been retained in the White Paper, but will be phased in more slowly. The second year of the TEF is now set to be a pilot exercise, with all institutions that volunteer to participate and who meet basic standards being permitted to increase their fees in line with inflation.
- Quality plans back QAA, appear to criticise Hefce
Government says it could designate sector quality body in future to protect co-regulation. White Paper praises the QAA, and pledges to retain the “most positive” aspects of the current quality system.
- Degree powers from 'day one' for new providers
Alternative providers should also be able to charge £9,000 tuition fees from the day they open, says government. Alternative providers currently have to offer degrees validated by a partner institution for five years before they can apply for their own degree-awarding powers.
- HE White Paper: Moves to boost private providers 'dangerous'
Supporters back easing of degree powers and university title as step to 'innovation'.White Paper also proposes that the minimum student numbers requirement for institutions hoping to gain university title – currently 1,000 – be scrapped.
- The higher education sector responds
Key figures from the university world respond to the higher education White Paper, Success as a Knowledge Economy
- Will Google and Facebook really offer degrees in the UK?
Experts mull over Jo Johnson’s aim. What sorts of companies or institutions can we really expect to try to offer degrees in England under the government’s plan to bring in new providers to compete with established universities?
- Elect more academics to university boards, say public HE advocates
Academic freedom is under threat from forthcoming plans for higher education, says ‘alternative white paper’
Higher education White Paper: analysis
- Higher education White Paper is just the beginning
Nick Hillman picks the higher education White Paper apart, but warns there is still plenty of distance to run before legislation. What next for the goverment's higher education proposals?
- Is there justification for introducing the TEF?
Dorothy Bishop examines the government's statistical claims about student satisfaction
- The HE White Paper could bring 'Ofsted tyranny' to universities
Success as a Knowledge Economy is the culmination of several unwelcome trends in higher education, writes Joanna Williams
- Is the New College of the Humanities Jo Johnson’s Byron Burger?
Did the universities minister had anyone in mind when he formulated his plans to open up degree-awarding powers? asks John Gill
- Five key White Paper talking points
THE editor John Gill assesses whether the White Paper does enough to answer critics of the government's HE policies
- The Labour Party responds to 'dangerous' HE White Paper
Shadow minister for higher education, further education and skills, Gordon Marsden, offers his thoughts on the government's HE plans
- Plans place market, not students, at the heart of UKHE
John Holmwood wants to see quality education at the heart of the system
More HE White Paper-related developments
The government has published a review of data sources for metrics to assess teaching quality and student outcomes. Download it here.
A technical consultation on the how the Teaching Excellence Framework will operate is now open. Take part here (closes 12 July, 11:45pm).