Higher education bill update

Since the Easter vacation, the higher education bill had left the House of Commons after its third reading and is now at the time of going to print under heated debate in the House of Lords. The second reading (which was the first official debate in the Lords) was on April the 19th where there were 46 speakers on the bill (it is normal only to have around 5 or 6) so there was much divide over what the bill was intending to do.

NPC is encouraged to see that the Lords endorsed the introduction of the Arts and Humanities Research Council, where it was declared that there would be funding stipends of up to 10,000 for research students as well as provision for Roberts training, which other research councils provide. Further to this, there was support to remove Visitorial jurisdiction from student complaints, as a number of the Lords were indeed Visitors themselves.

The ever continuing debate on tuition fees has continued to cause concerning debate in the house. NPC was most encouraged to see an amendment to the bill by Lord Freyberg, who will be a postgraduate himself next year and has seen the concerns of the lack of funding for postgraduates in certain areas. For this reason he has pushed an amendment to extend the student loan to postgraduates. The final decision over this amendment has not yet been met at the time of going to print. All this may be good news, although concern still circles around what the implications of the undergraduate tuition fees will be in terms of how a graduate can extend their debt even further to continue their studies or research.