Hefce’s agents

April 28, 2016

In her letter on the Higher Education Funding Council for England making higher education policy by blog, Gill Evans quotes Susan Lapworth as saying that, for Hefce, “it’s not particularly helpful to trade legal interpretations” (“Stop digging”, Letters, 21 April). I agree, because the legislation to which she refers – the Further and Higher Education Act 1992 – makes it quite clear, in Section 82, that “the arrangements made by each institution...for maintaining academic standards in the institution” are to be quite separate from Hefce’s duty, under Section 70, to “assess the quality of education provided in institutions for whose activities they provide...financial support”. The former function – assessing institutions’ academic standards – could only be discharged by the funding councils collectively if the necessary secondary legislation were made, and to date it never has been (so far as I know).

The real mystery here is not why Lapworth and Hefce are seeking to extend their remit beyond the express intentions of the legislation, but why the representative bodies – Universities UK, GuildHE – have not sought to challenge this on legal grounds alone. Historically, the institutions collectively always tried to resist interference in their academic standards by the government and its agencies. Now they appear to be content to act as Hefce’s agents. Could we please be told what it is that has changed?

Roger Brown
Emeritus professor of higher education policy
Liverpool Hope University

Send to

Letters should be sent to: THE.Letters@tesglobal.com
Letters for publication in Times Higher Education should arrive by 9am Monday.
View terms and conditions.

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 6 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments

Related articles

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

Home secretary says government will support 'best' universities

Man handing microphone to audience member

Academic attainment of disadvantaged students can be improved if they can decide how they are assessed, study claims

Woman drinking tea from saucer

Plugging a multibillion-pound deficit exacerbated by June’s poll result may require ‘drastic measures’, analysts have warned

Italy's gold medallist

New measures to ensure universities are ‘not penalised’ for taking poorer students also outlined for next stage of TEF

Classroom, school

Higher education institutions can and should do more to influence education at a secondary school level, says Edward Peck