Ministers back down on campus reforms: Climbdown on funding follows opposition from Tory peers. Fran Abrams reports

MINISTERS have abandoned plans to reform student unions and to withdraw public funding from hundreds of campus societies, it was disclosed last night.

The climbdown over the Education Bill, details of which were leaked to the Independent last week, was made in the face of opposition from Conservatives in the House of Lords. However, the Government still faces defeat over separate plans to reform teacher training when the Bill reaches its Committee Stage next month.

The reforms would have starved the National Union of Students - which ministers described as the last closed shop in Britain - of cash, but would also have deprived student newspapers, entertainments and clubs of funds.

Under an amendment to the Bill, tabled last night, universities will now be responsible for ensuring that student unions operate in a fair and democratic manner. Individual students will have the right to opt out of union membership, but if they do so they will lose the right to vote in campus elections. They will still be able to use union bars and facilities, but will not be able to recover union fees, which are paid by the university in a block grant.

Unions will have to hold secret ballots in order to affiliate to outside bodies such as NUS, and decisions will have to be reviewed annually. However, with each union affiliating to about 70 sporting bodies, this is unlikely to be enforced.

Student unions will have to have a written constitution, approved by the university's governing body and reviewed every five years.

Announcing the retreat last night, Baroness Blatch, Minister of State for Education, said the Government had taken into account the issues raised during the Second Reading, before Christmas, when 31 peers spoke against it and only two for. 'The Government's intention is to secure democracy, accountability and choice in a way that does not inhibit the important extra-curricular activities of students,' she said.

Lorna Fitzsimons, president of NUS, said: 'We welcome this wave of common sense. Their revised legislation incorporates our own original ideas for clarifying the rights and responsibilities of student unions and NUS.'

However, there were warnings that proposals in the Bill to set up a teacher training agency to transfer more responsibility for training to schools, could prove equally controversial. Some Tory peers are now expected to join the Opposition to fight what remains of the Bill.

Blackpool and The Fylde College, which employs 330 full-time and 542 part-time lecturers, yesterday won a High Court injunction to prevent the lecturers' union calling a one-day strike. The National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education plans a national action next Tuesday over the introduction of flexible contracts of employment. Mr Justice Morison held that the strike would be unlawful because the union had not 'described' the employees who were to be balloted on action or those who would be called out on strike so that the employer could readily ascertain who they were.

The union claimed it could not be required to name its members. It was granted a stay on the injunction until today - provided that it could begin an appeal by today.

Life and Style
A teenager boy wakes up.
Life and Style
It is believed that historically rising rates of alcohol consumption have contributed to the increase
food + drink
The erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey has already been blamed for a rise in the number of callouts to the fire brigade for people trapped in handcuffs
voicesJustine Elyot: Since Fifty Shades there's no need to be secretive about it — everyone's at it
Arts and Entertainment
Critics say Kipling showed loathing for India's primitive villagers in The Jungle Book
filmChristopher Walken, Bill Murray, Scarlett Johanssen Idris Elba, Andy Serkis, Benedict Cumberbatch, Cate Blanchett and Christian Bale
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Playing to win: for Tanith Carey, pictured with Lily, right, and Clio, even simple games had to have an educational purpose
lifeTanith Carey explains what made her take her foot off the gas
Arts and Entertainment
The White Sails Hospital and Spa is to be built in the new Tunisia Economic City.
architectureRussian billionaire designs boat-shaped hospital for new Dubai-style Tunisia Economic City
Arts and Entertainment
You could be in the Glastonbury crowd next summer if you follow our tips for bagging tickets this week
Life and Style
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Trainee Helpdesk Analyst / 1st Line Application Support Analyst

£18000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

Data Analyst / Marketing Database Analyst

£24000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

IT Systems Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

Science Teacher

£100 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Group: Science Supply Teacher position...

Day In a Page

Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

Education, education, education

TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

Inside the E15 'occupation'

We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
Witches: A history of misogyny

Witches: A history of misogyny

The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style