Students given role in university reforms?

 

Students are to be given a role in holding universities to account, it has been announced.

The National Union of Students (NUS) has been asked to help regulate institutions as part of the Government's latest bid to reform higher education.

The move is part of a plan by ministers to give more powers to the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) - the body which hands grants to universities for research and teaching.

Under the proposals, HEFCE has been tasked with working with universities, agencies and the NUS to monitor institutions "with a focus on protecting the collective student interest".

The funding council is to be given powers to impose tough new sanctions on universities that fail to meet yet-to-be decided conditions. These sanctions include preventing an institution's students from obtaining student loans.

In a written ministerial statement, Universities and Science Minister David Willetts said the new regulatory system for the higher education sector will be put in place without the need for new legislation.

The coalition Government had originally planned to introduce a new Higher Education Bill to regulate the system alongside the move to triple tuition fees to a maximum of £9,000, but this has been dropped.

HEFCE has also been asked to set up a new register which will give information on how universities are funded and what they have committed to do in areas such as providing information for students, handling complaints and making sure that all prospective students have a fair chance of gaining a place.

In a letter to HEFCE chair Tim Melville-Ross, Mr Willetts said he wants the funding body to take the lead in working with others, including the NUS, to "identify and address issues within higher education providers and take appropriate remedial action."

The minister told the Times Higher Education magazine that the NUS is viewed as "a crucial ally in the agenda for putting students at the heart of the system."

NUS president Toni Pearce said: "We welcome David Willetts's acknowledgement of the important role that NUS and our members can play in shaping the future of education.

"HEFCE will now play an important role in helping to protect the student interest and we look forward to working with them and others to bring about better regulation of the sector in a way that will really benefit students.

"As significant as this move is, it in no way negates the pressing need for protection for students to be enshrined in a higher education bill, which had been a solid government commitment until it was quietly dropped last year."

Mr Willetts said: "Our reforms are putting students at the heart of the system. They will ensure that universities are well funded and able to deliver a better student experience while promoting social mobility and widening participation."

He added: "I would like to thank the Regulatory Partnership Group for coming up with a framework which ensures proper accountability for public funding, protects the interests of students, gives priority to quality improvement, safeguards institutional autonomy, and sustains the reputation of English higher education."

Mr Melville-Ross said: "The new arrangements are designed to safeguard the interests of students, ensure proper accountability for the use of public funds, and protect and enhance the reputation of higher education in England."

PA

Sport
sportGareth Bale, Carl Froch and Kelly Gallagher also in the mix for award
News
Japan's Suntory Beverage & Food has bought GlaxoSmithKline's Lucozade and Ribena
news
News
A tongue-eating louse (not the one Mr Poli found)
newsParasitic louse appeared inside unfilleted sea bass
Life and Style
Out and about: for 'Glee' character Bert Hummel, having a gay son was a learning curve
lifeEven 'cool' parents need help parenting gay teens
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Money
Anyone over the age of 40 seeking a loan with a standard term of 25 years will be borrowing beyond a normal retirement age of 65, and is liable to find their options restricted
propertyAnd it's even worse if you're 40
Arts and Entertainment
Perhaps longest awaited is the adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road with Brazil’s Walter Salles directing and Sam Riley, Kristen Stewart and Viggo Mortensen as the Beat-era outsiders
books
Arts and Entertainment
theatreSinger to join cast of his Broadway show after The Last Ship flounders at the box office
Life and Style
fashion'To start singing with Pharrell is not that bad, no?'
News
news
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Commercial Property Surveyor

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the leading firms of Cha...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Central London, Bank

£26000 - £28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A truly exciting opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Structural Engineer

£22500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A keen Graduate Structural Engineer with...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Data & Delivery Guru

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Graduate Data & Delivery Guru is required to...

Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

The young are the new poor

Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

Greens on the march

‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

Through the stories of his accusers
Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

The Meaning of Mongol

Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible