A very long consultation. And a very long green paper

Dr Paul Greatrix, Registrar at the University of Nottingham, discusses the AHUA consideration of the Government’s Green Paper on HE.

The government response to the submissions on its green paper on higher education is expected later in the spring. There have been many hundreds of responses to the green paper which might explain the extended timescale here. One of these responses is from the AHUA. Having considered initially whether it would be appropriate for the Association to respond, the AHUA Executive thought it important that we, given our collective expertise, did comment on the relevant sections.

A working group was established by the Executive, led by Liz Winders (Sheffield Hallam University), and involving others including Sophie Bowen (St George’s University of London), Rebecca Davies (Aberystwyth University) and myself (with Liz Winders doing the bulk of the work) and the draft was prepared following a series of virtual exchanges of documentation and incorporating elements from our institutions’ own draft submissions. This was then shared with, amended by and signed off by the Executive as a whole before submission.

There was a great consistency of view across the members of the sub-group and indeed the Executive as a whole, which made the draft response much easier to prepare.

The key areas covered in the response were:

  • Challenges of the TEF, including the need to slow the pace of introduction
  • The problems with the TEF levels proposed and the link to fee levels
  • Information provision for students
  • Difficulties with metrics
  • Avoiding additional regulatory burden
  • The need for high thresholds for entry for new providers in the interest of students and the sector as a whole
  • The unhelpfully narrow remit of the proposed ‘Office for Students’
  • Leave students’ unions out of this please
  • Cautions and caveats around the Nurse proposals on research.

Overall whilst we were positive about the opportunities to comment on these areas there were significant concerns about many of the government’s proposals contained in the green paper. You can find the full text of the AHUA response as submitted here. WonkHE has also compiled a list of responses from around the sector which you can find here .

What will the outcome be? Will there be Parliamentary time set aside for new legislation? Will something called the Office for Students ever come to pass? Only time will tell…