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UCU calls for the higher education bill to be scrapped as universities brief shifts to department for education

14 July 2016 | last updated: 1 April 2019

Union says changes to government departments, cabinet appointments and Brexit mean carrying on regardless would be 'absurd'.

UCU today said the government had to scrap the Higher Education and Research Bill, scheduled for a second reading in Parliament next week.

As part of her cabinet appointments, Theresa May has moved the universities and skills brief from the department of business, innovation and skills to the department for education.

The union said the implications of the Brexit vote on universities should have been enough to halt proceedings. It said that the cabinet reshuffle and changes to the departments tasked with implementing the bill meant any attempt to carry on regardless now would be absurd.

UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'The extraordinary events of the last three weeks mean it is quite absurd to believe domestic politics can simply carry on regardless. However, the Higher Education and Research Bill is currently still proceeding through Parliament and due its second reading next week. 

'The bill was conceived in a pre-Brexit world and, whatever its merits or otherwise, its significance for higher education is dwarfed by the implications of the UK leaving the EU. Now the universities and skills brief has been moved into a different government department it is time to put the Bill to one side.

'We would like to see a non-partisan inquiry looking at how we can safeguard the future of our brilliant universities and colleges, and ensure that staff and students from around the world continue to be welcome here.'