Higher Education (Monetary Penalties and Refusal to Renew an Access and Participation Plan) (England) Regulations 2019 - Motion to Approve

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 5:00 pm on 20th May 2019.

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Photo of Viscount Younger of Leckie Viscount Younger of Leckie Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip) 5:00 pm, 20th May 2019

I understand exactly the point that the noble Baroness is making. I can certainly take that back to the department, and possibly to the Treasury, but I am pretty sure it is a matter which is tied down; as I have made clear, it is tied down in legislation, and was set out in the Higher Education and Research Act. However, the point is well made.

The noble Lord, Lord Bassam, asked about an impact assessment. No impact assessment was prepared for this instrument because these regulations do not introduce further burdens that would have an impact on businesses, charities or voluntary bodies. A provider’s compliance with its registration conditions—and so avoiding OfS sanction—is within the provider’s own control.

It is worth noting that the mandatory factors in Regulation 4 require that the OfS must have regard to the impact of imposing a penalty on higher education students at the provider in question and on higher education students more generally. The OfS will also take into account other matters that it considers to be relevant, including financial stability. However, with the greater emphasis that the OfS has given the regulator in terms of looking at the providers and their progress or otherwise, there is a process which the noble Lord will be aware of, to the extent that the financial sustainability of the providers is monitored very closely indeed. If there is any hint of difficulties, much closer monitoring will take place. I hope that is helpful.

The noble Lord, Lord Storey, asked about disadvantaged schools and the targets. The OfS is encouraging all the providers to work with schools through outreach access and participation plans, which should include targets set by providers and agreed by the OfS.

In terms of the help that independent schools can give to maintained and secondary schools, the noble Lord will be aware that—I am pleased to say—much work is going on between and by independent schools to ensure that resources, including teaching resources, are given where appropriate to secondary or maintained schools in a particular area. That is deliberately to help to raise standards within the community and give those who are less advantaged a greater chance to go on to either vocational training or a university.