Briefings & Evidence

Briefing for Second Reading of the HE and Research Bill, Westminster, 19 July 2016

The 2nd reading of the Higher Education and Research Bill takes place from 11.30 on Tuesday, 19 July led by Rt Hon Sajid Javid.

You can find Universities Scotland’s brief for MPs here.

The Bill directly affects Scottish HEIs in both their teaching and their research. We ask for the support of Scottish MPs throughout the passage of the Bill to ensure that it develops in a way that will serve the interests of Scotland’s higher education institutions which have an international reputation for their teaching and research.

There are many provisions in the Bill with significant implications for Scotland’s 19 HEIs:

  • The Bill makes changes to UK research infrastructure including the UK Research Councils. To give a sense of the scale of importance of these grants to Scotland, last year £254.9 million of research grants came to Scottish HEIs from the RCUK (2014/15). Income competitively-won from RCUK is the major second plank of the dual-support funding system for research.
  • The Bill looks to establish the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) which will be a new way of assessing universities on the quality of their teaching. This can be found in clause 25 & 26 of the Bill. The Bill looks to link these to tuition fee increases (clause 27).
  • It looks to ‘increase competition and choice’ in the higher education sector including making it easier for unproven providers to have degree-awarding powers and use ‘university’ title.
  • It creates a new body, the Office for Students (OfS) which has the ability to give institutions degree awarding powers (a power that currently sits with the Privy Council) and run the new TEF. As such, this body will be relevant to HEIs in Scotland, and its relation with Scottish regulators is unclear.

For further information please contact Susannah Lane, Head of Public Affairs.