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Students Protest over Higher Education and Research Bill

Posted by Richard Ward in

Image courtesy of Flickr, Creative Commons

Yesterday protesters descended on Parliament Square to demonstrate against the second reading of the Higher Education and Research Bill, which has previously been labelled as dangerous by the Nation Union of Students (NUS).

Activists have argued that the Bill represents the worst set of marketing reforms in the history of British university education.

The Bill is the first of its kind for a decade and outlines some of the biggest higher education reforms seen in recent times.

A particularly contentious element of the bill is the linking of the Teaching Excellence Framework with the potential to increase tuition fees, which caused disgust in the sector from students already being left in too much debt.

The National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts called upon students, officers, education workers and activists to oppose the bill, which they argue will lead to a sector whereby teaching will be measured on meaningless market metrics that will be used to raise fees even further, and where students will be seen as consumers.

There are also concerns that the Government will drive public universities into administration and then help for-profit companies take their place.

NUS vice president for higher education, Sorana Vieru, suggested that there is an opportunity to halt the reforms, given the uncertain political climate following the recent Brexit vote. It was also argued that it is not in students' interests to have to pay more to access excellent teaching, or to have a system based on competition.