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Higher Education Green Paper 2015 Fulfilling Our Potential

Published Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Higher Education Green Paper published on 6 November 2015 makes proposals to reform the higher education system. The paper proposes introducing the Teaching Excellence Framework to assess teaching quality in higher education institutions and reward those with excellent teaching. It will also introduce a single entry route into higher education to level the playing field between public providers and private providers, strengthen activities around access to higher education and abolish the Higher Education Funding Council for England and replace it with a new body the Office for Students. The consultation on the Green Paper closes on 15 January 2016 and it is anticipated that a higher education bill will follow.

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The Green Paper, Fulfilling Our Potential, published on 6 November 2015 set out proposals to:

  • introduce the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) which will assess the quality of teaching in higher education institutions (HEIs) and link this assessment to the ability to charge higher fees
  • introduce a single route into higher education sector to ‘level the playing field’ between public HEIs and private providers. It will also make changes to the arrangements around degree awarding power, university title and specific course designation for student support purposes
  • strengthen activities around widening participation and access to higher education
  • simplify higher education administration by abolishing the Higher Education Funding Council for England and replacing it with a new arms-length body the Office for Students; this body will incorporate the Office for Fair Access
  • consult on changes to research funding

The paper has been generally welcomed by commentators in the sector, particularly the paper’s emphasis on widening participation and social mobility. The proposals on the TEF and opening up the market to new higher education providers however have caused some concern.

Responses to the paper must be received by 15 January 2016. The paper will be followed by a Technical Consultation document giving details on the proposals and guidance on removing barriers to entry to the higher education sector which will be published in summer 2016.

Higher education is a devolved matter so most of the proposals in the Green Paper apply to England only. However, funding delivered through the research councils and some broader elements of research policy are reserved matters, so the proposals on research funding apply across the UK.

Commons Briefing papers CBP-7399

Author: Susan Hubble

Topics: Higher education, Students

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