Key points from the White Paper 2016

The Government White Paper announced in May 2016 aims to introduce more competition, informed choice and to deliver greater value.

Success as a Knowledge Economy: Teaching excellence, Social mobility and Student choice

The Government White Paper announced on 16 May 2016 aims to introduce more competition in HE, informed choice for prospective and current students and to deliver greater value for students, employers and taxpayers. A summary of key points from the White Paper are outlined below.  

  • Research: Research Councils, Innovate UK and the research innovation functions of the Higher Education Council for England (Hefce) will be part of a new body UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) to work together and manage a new common research fund, on an increasingly multi/inter disciplinary approach. This reflects part of a recommendation from the review of research councils by Sir Paul Nurse.
  • New entrants: New providers will find it easier to enter and attain degree awarding powers or use the ‘University’ title. The minimum student numbers criterion has been removed. New entrants will be subject to monitoring on a probationary basis. Maintaining the quality of the student experience during this probationary phase will be important. Degree Awarding Powers will be part of the new Office for Students (OfS) and the future role of the Privy Council will be clarified as further details are discussed.
  • Office for Students: The OfS will provide a single route into the sector for all providers as a new regulator in place of Hefce. This will bring competition, choice and the student interest together for the first time. A risk-based approach to regulation will reduce the burden for institutions not requiring monitoring.
  • The Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF): The TEF moves towards phase 2 (TEF2) and will take into account teaching quality, learning environment and exam results using a range of data including student survey feedback, retention rates and graduate employment. The details of the TEF2 quality criteria and the practicalities will be the subject of further consultation. 
  • Fee increases: All institutions can increase fees in line with inflation in 2017.  The White Paper means inflationary fee increases will soon be linked to baseline quality expectations. Crucially, the TEF will be part of an institutions ability to increase fees in line with inflation from 2019. In 2018 there will be the opportunity to volunteer for assessment by expert panels and to receive a quality rating. In 2019 only higher-rated institutions will be able to raise fees in line with inflation.
  • Published information: Universities will be required to publish detailed information on ethnicity, gender, socio-economic background of students and attainment.
  • Students transferring:  between Universities will be easier through a credit system giving greater mobility.

The full 85 page Report can be viewed at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/higher-education-success-as-a-knowledge-economy-white-paper

The Review of Research Councils by Sir Paul Nurse can be viewed at https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/nurse-review-of-research-councils

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