Last week the government released their White Paper outlining some key changes to Higher Education - and the first piece of Higher Education legislation for over 10 years.
The paper, called, ‘Success as a Knowledge Economy: Teaching Excellence, Social Mobility and Student Choice’ is a further push towards the government’s increased marketisation of the Higher Education sector.
WHAT IS A WHITE PAPER?
WHITE PAPERS are issued by the Government as statements of policy, and often set out proposals for changes in the law and legislation.
GREEN PAPERS are set out for discussion and comment when proposals are still being developed– and people are invited to comment and submit responses.
Sheffield Students’ Union worked with students and Union Officers to submit a response to this proposal when it was in its ‘Green Paper’ Stage.
We made sure Sheffield students were represented and that the student voice was heard: we challenged many proposals in the paper including the notion of measuring learning and teaching excellence via standard national metrics and allowing performance against metrics to be tied to increases in tuition fees.
We also worked with the University – who shared many of our concerns - to release a joint statement: https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/news/nr/joint-statement-keith-burnett-student-union-teaching-higher-education-green-paper-1.528259
WHAT DOES THE WHITE PAPER SAY?
Headlines from the paper include:
- the introduction of a ‘Teaching Excellence Framework’ – which will include ‘metrics’ to measure a university’s performance in ‘teaching excellence’
- the common ‘metrics’ the government will use to measure excellence will be based on graduate employment rates and salaries, as well as student satisfaction levels – with information being used from surveys such as the National Student Survey and Destinations of Leavers of Higher Education
- universities will be able to increase tuition fees depending on their performance against the ‘Teaching Excellence Framework’ metrics
- a drive to open up the sector to new providers who can deliver courses and award degrees
There is also a focus in the paper on fair access and widening participation – looking at issues around access to education as well as retention, attainment and progression; as well as comments around making Students’ Unions more ‘transparent’.
Sheffield Students’ Union has already been doing work analysing the paper and looking at what our next steps could be – how we can challenge the proposals and influence change. We’re also having conversations with the University and NUS.
Keep a lookout for the next steps and how to get involved.