We were delighted to hear that the Government’s Higher Education reforms were dealt a significant body-blow in the House of Lords last night when Peers voted to decouple the government’s proposed ‘Teaching Excellence Framework’ from both tuition fees and caps on international student numbers.
If these amendments remain intact, they potentially now scupper the TEF itself, since Universities’ TEF rankings would no longer be used to influence tuition fee rates or the number of international students they are allowed to recruit, as was originally intended. Indeed, given the reticence that many institutions (including Warwick) have expressed towards the TEF, it is highly unlikely that many will now feel so compelled to participate in such a contentious and flawed initiative – thus laying bare the fallacy of this Government’s attempts to fully marketise Higher Education in the UK.
We were equally pleased to see that the Government’s opposition to mandatory electoral registration for students at the point of enrolment was also defeated. If passed, new measures will now see the automatic enfranchisement of hundreds of thousands of students in local and national elections, thus ensuring students the voice they are entitled to.
There is still much to do in both these areas – since the amendments will likely be subject to further scrutiny in the Commons, we urge Final-Year students to continue boycotting the National Student Survey (NSS) and withholding their data from Ipsos Mori to send a clear message that students will not be held to ransom.
Nonetheless, this resounding victory – one which will affect all international students and home & EU undergraduates studying in the UK - is a direct result of sustained pressure from the NSS Boycott, Students’ Unions, activist groups, the National Union of Students and Universities themselves. It is now clearer than ever that SUs and the NUS taking a stance on national policy can, and does, make a difference.
The Sabbatical Officer Team