The HE and Research Bill had its second reading in the House of Lords yesterday and has now moved to the Lords Committee stage – battle lines were drawn. It was a long debate, but if you weren’t able to watch it or follow the live tweeting, you can read the full debate in Hansard here. At the committee stage (no dates available yet) amendments will be tabled and discussed in great detail.
The Bill has only had government amendments approved so far, and there has been a lot of criticism (of and by everyone) of the level of scrutiny so far – with time being severely limited in committee and third reading stage in the Commons, with all opposition amendments rejected. But as you saw from my update on the third reading in the Commons, the debate there centered largely on Brexit, student visas, TEF, and loans (none of which are actually covered by the Bill), with very little actual focus on the bill itself.
It is expected that the Lords, while they will discuss those issues as well, will also focus on the bill itself, particularly on the changes to the research landscape, but also on degree awarding powers and other aspects of autonomy – and that was reflected yesterday, as well as discussions about the TEF.
UUK have update their briefing note to focus on what they want from the Lords – read it here – it lists the same 7 issues as for the House of Commons third reading, so it is interesting to see that they have flagged three in particular in a joint letter to the Guardian with GuildHE, calling for the Lords to amend the Bill to address probationary degree awarding powers, to stop the OfS validating degrees and to stop the government interfering in academic standards and course funding.
It has long been expected that fees, loans and the linking of TEF to fees, will be a feature of the Lords debate – Wes Streeting wrote about student loan repayment yesterday: Wes Streeting MP: Labour Lords will fight student loan repayment ‘scandal’