We need your support to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can continue to hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

Higher Education and Research Bill - Committee (6th Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 7:30 pm on 25th January 2017.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Baroness Goldie Baroness Goldie Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip), Baroness in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip) 7:30 pm, 25th January 2017

My Lords, these amendments make a number of largely technical changes to this clause, which deals with the student complaints scheme in higher education. It may help if I begin by explaining that none of these changes impacts on the policy intent. This is to ensure that the definition of a qualifying institution for the student complaints scheme is widened to ensure that all providers on the OfS register will be required to join the scheme. Amendments 455 and 456 go slightly further by confirming, as is current practice, that higher education providers delivering courses in a franchise arrangement will also be required to join the student complaints scheme.

This approach means that all higher education students should have the same right to have their unresolved complaints considered through this route, provided that their complaint meets the requirements for consideration under the scheme. The key change we are now introducing is to ensure that the requirement we are putting into legislation that deals with providers that are no longer regarded as qualifying institutions of the complaints handling scheme will apply in both England and Wales. That is important given that the complaints handling scheme has operated successfully across both nations for over 10 years. In practice, this means that providers that cease to be qualifying institutions are classed as transitional providers and still subject to the scheme for a further period of up to 12 months. This ensures an additional protection for students.

In addition, through Amendment 457, we are making a minor change to ensure that the operator of the student complaints scheme continues to have the discretion to agree with individual providers what courses should be covered by the scheme. This is existing practice, and the amendment simply ensures it applies correctly to all those providers who are part of the scheme. Without this discretion, it is likely that the complaints handling scheme could inadvertently stray into other parts of the education sector, such as schools or further education. Many of the providers now joining the complaints handling scheme offer more than higher education courses. This might include courses considered as part of the schools or further education sector, where separate complaints arrangements are already in place. Finally, the amendments make some minor technical changes, mainly to ensure that this clause is linked to all the appropriate clauses in the Bill. I beg to move.

Amendment 450 agreed.