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Lords amendment sets robust minimum standards for universities

10 January 2017

Universities must protect academic freedom, maintain a broad curriculum, and contribute to society through partnership and research, according to a new amendment to the Higher Education and Research Bill just passed in the House of Lords.

By setting out the functions required of universities, the opposition amendment aims to address concerns raised by UCU and others that making it easier for alternative providers to enter the sector would threaten the quality, autonomy and international reputation of UK higher education.

The move came on the same day as a new survey by YouGov for UCU revealed that four in five academics (81%) believe government plans to give new providers easier access to degree-awarding powers and a university title would have a negative impact on UK higher education.

Responding to the development, UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said: 'This amendment sends a clear message to government that universities have a key public role to play in our society. It ensures that any institution calling itself a university must meet important standards of academic freedom and intellectual endeavour.

'UCU has been warning for some time that making it easier to award and revoke university title threatens the autonomy of our universities and their long-standing international reputation for excellence, so I congratulate peers for putting a brake on these plans. We will continue to work with peers in the coming weeks to oppose the rest of this damaging and divisive bill.'  

Last updated: 31 January 2017