Despite widespread support within the UK higher education sector and the general public, a proposed amendment to remove international students from UK net migration figures was turned down by the government. However, lawmakers did agree to look at the data on students and immigration at a future date. The Higher Education and Research Bill was pushed through UK Parliament with some last minute compromises to ensure it passed before parliament shuts down for the General Election campaign.
“We are pleased the bill has now passed providing new legislation, and stability during a time of uncertainty, for our world-class university sector. We agreed there was a need for new legislation, but we had concerns about the original draft bill. Thanks to MPs and peers, and the willingness of ministers and officials to engage and listen, the final bill has been significantly improved,” said Dame Julia Goodfellow, President of Universities UK. “We are also encouraged by the minister’s statement today that there will be a refreshed international engagement strategy to promote our universities overseas, but we will continue our efforts to secure a more progressive immigration regime for staff and students.”
The bill has been touted as the biggest shake-up of higher education in decades, marking a shift towards a market approach. It will establish a system for rating teaching quality at universities, the Teaching Excellence Framework or TEF, which will help aspiring students choose which universities to apply to, and will allow high-performing institutions to increase tuition fees by the rate of inflation.