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House of Lords forces key amendment to Higher Education Bill

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In a rare committee-stage vote, the House of Lords has passed an amendment to the controversial Higher Education Bill, effectively limiting the powers of new profit making education providers the government had intended to create.

The measure passed by 27 votes, with 248 peers supporting the amendments and 221 voting against.

While government ministers had argued that the reforms would up teaching quality by increasing competition, peers had voiced concerns that they would unacceptably commercialise the education sector.

Labour peer Wilf Stevenson led the voices speaking out against the proposed reforms, writing when the amendment was first tabled:

“The purpose of our amendment is simple: the bill does not define a university and we think it is important that it does. We do not simply itemise some core functions of a university but also scope out the role, with implicit ideals of responsibility, engagement and public service.”

Proposals to allow for-profit organisations to award degrees were among the bill´s most debated measures. However other changes, such as the introduction of the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), which will allow universities to increase tuition fees in line with student satisfaction ratings, as of yet remain although strongly opposed by the National Union of Students, who are running a campaign to boycott the National Student Survey

This amendment marks the first of more than 500 tabled by the House of Lords, which will be debated over the course of the five further dates set for the committee stage, starting tomorrow and ending on January 25th

Images by Maurice and Jorge Royan

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