The UK Government must take action to avoid potential negative effects to the higher education sector in Scotland, according to a report issued today by the Scottish Parliament’s Education and Skills Committee.
During its consideration of the Legislative Consent Memorandum (LCM) on the Higher Education and Research Bill, the Committee heard concerns about the impact the Bill could have in Scotland if a number of further amendments are not made.
The ability of Scottish universities to compete globally as well as questions over research funding were just some of the issues raised by witnesses appearing at the Committee. The Committee also heard fears that the introduction of a new Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) would mean that Scottish universities may struggle to compete on the international market.
As well as reporting on the LCM, the Committee has also written to the UK Government and the House of Lords, urging them to further amend the Bill to reflect the Scottish context.
Committee Convener, James Dornan MSP said:
“Scottish universities rightly have a worldwide reputation for excellence in both teaching and research and it is vital this reputation is not damaged by the Bill currently being considered by the House of Lords.
“We have heard evidence from across the higher education sector and we were struck by how unified these witnesses were in calling for the Bill to be amended to both reflect and indeed project our unique and valued system.
“This is why we have written to both the House of Lords and the UK Government to urge them to make the amendments necessary to reflect the Scottish perspective.”
A copy of the Committee’s report and the letters to the UK government and the House of Lords can be read here.
The UK Higher Education and Research Bill seeks to introduce a TEF to rate higher education institutions as well as creating a new research body, UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). The LCM seeks consent from the Scottish Parliament to allow for joint working between UKRI and the Scottish Funding Council as well as allowing institutions to join the TEF.
The Committee took evidence from Universities Scotland, the Royal Society of Edinburgh, UCU Scotland, NUS Scotland and the Scottish Funding Council at its meeting on 16 November. The Official Report from that meeting can be found here.
More information about the Committee’s consideration of the LCM can be found here.