Higher Education and Research Bill

– in a Public Bill Committee at 12:00 am on 6th September 2016.

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(Morning)

[Mr David Hanson in the Chair]

Good morning, colleagues. Before we begin, I have a few preliminary comments. First, we must silence or switch off mobile phones. Neither teas nor coffees are appropriate during our deliberations. I and my co-Chair, Sir Edward Leigh, welcome you all to the Committee. Today we are considering various proposals, beginning with the programme motion. We will then deliberate in private about the questioning of today’s witnesses. Later in the week we will move on to the formal line-by-line consideration of the Bill. We have limited time and have to finish the first question session by 10.30 and the second session by 11.25. Any time spent debating the programme motion will be taken out of the first witness session, but it is entirely up to the Committee how it wishes to deal with that.

It is. I will not be difficult about that. Indeed, Mr Smith has already removed his, as has Mr Howlett, and that is fine. I am fairly relaxed about that, so please feel free, Mr Marsden.

Photo of Jo Johnson Jo Johnson Minister of State (Department for Education) (Universities and Science) (Joint with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy), Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Universities and Science) (Joint with the Department for Education)

I beg to move,

That—

(1) the Committee shall (in addition to its first meeting at 9.25 am on Tuesday 6 September) meet—

(a) at 2.00 pm on Tuesday 6 September;

(b) at 11.30 am and 2.00 pm on Thursday 8 September;

(c) at 9.25 am and 2.00 pm on Tuesday 13 September;

(d) at 11.30 am and 2.00 pm on Thursday 15 September;

(e) at 9.25 am and 2.00 pm on Tuesday 11 October;

(f) at 11.30 am and 2.00 pm on Thursday 13 October;

(g) at 9.25 am and 2.00 pm on Tuesday 18 October;

(2) the Committee shall hear oral evidence in accordance with the following Table:

Date

Time

Witness

Tuesday 6 September

Until no later than 10.30 am

Universities UK; GuildHE; Independent Higher Education (formerly Study UK); MillionPlus

Tuesday 6 September

Until no later than 11.25 am

Sir Alan Langlands, Vice-Chancellor, University of Leeds; Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, Vice-Chancellor, University Cambridge; University of Alliance; Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS)

Tuesday 6 September

Until no later than 2.45 pm

Which?; Confederation of British Industry; MoneySavingExpert.com; Professor Chris Husbands, Chair of the Teaching Excellence Framework and Vice-Chancellor, Sheffield Hallam University

Tuesday 6 September

Until no later than 3.30 pm

University and College of Football Business (UCFB); Condé Nast College of Fashion and Design; Further Education Trust for Leadership; Prospects College of Advanced Technology

Tuesday 6 September

Until no later than 4.15 pm

University and College Union; Alison Goddard, Editor of HE; Office for Fair Access

Tuesday 6 September

Until no later than 5.15 pm

Universities Scotland; Royal Society of Edinburgh; Scottish Funding Council; John Kingman, Chair of UK Research and Innovation

Thursday 8 September

Until no later than 12.30 pm

Research Councils UK; Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council; Innovate UK; The Royal Society

Thursday 8 September

Until no later than 1.00 pm

Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy; Department for Education

(3) proceedings on consideration of the Bill in Committee shall be taken in the following order: Clause 1; Schedule 1; Clauses 2 to 10; Schedule 2; Clauses 11 to 15; Schedule 3; Clauses 16 to 26; Schedule 4; Clauses 27 to 56; Schedule 5; Clauses 57 to 60; Schedule 6; Clauses 61 to 65; Schedule 7; Clauses 66 to 82; Schedule 8; Clause 83; Schedule 9; Clauses 84 to 104; Schedule 10, Clauses 105 to 110; Schedules 11 and 12; Clauses 111 to 113; new Clauses; new Schedules; remaining proceedings on the Bill;

(4) the proceedings shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion at 5.00 pm on Tuesday 18 October. —(Joseph Johnson.)

I am pleased to be here this morning to start the Bill’s passage through Committee stage. I thank everyone who has given up their time over the summer to make the arrangements for us all to be here today, the members of the Committee, those who have submitted volumes of written evidence, and those who will be giving evidence today and on Thursday, who include higher education mission groups such as Independent Higher Education and MillionPlus, and vice-chancellors such as Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz of Cambridge University and Sir Alan Langlands of the University of Leeds, whose universities are affiliated to the Russell Group.

Photo of Roberta Blackman-Woods Roberta Blackman-Woods Labour, City of Durham

made a declaration of interest. She said that, given that the Bill created a new office for students, witnesses from student organisations such as the National Union of Students should have been called to give oral evidence, as should representatives of the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education.

Photo of Jo Johnson Jo Johnson Minister of State (Department for Education) (Universities and Science) (Joint with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy), Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Universities and Science) (Joint with the Department for Education)

said that it was open to all parties to propose witnesses, but that the Labour party had not proposed NUS representatives until so late in the process that they could not be accommodated within the programme motion. He commented that the Scottish National party had proposed witnesses representing Scottish higher education and that they would give evidence in the afternoon sitting.

Photo of Roger Mullin Roger Mullin Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Treasury)

made a declaration of interest in that he is an honorary professor at the University of Stirling.

Photo of Gordon Marsden Gordon Marsden Shadow Minister (Business, Innovation and Skills), Shadow Minister (Education)

made the point that the Government’s failure even to consider students’ presence in the evidence sessions before being pressed to do so was deplorable, and that they could have accommodated students on the Thursday, as they had the SNP at late notice.

Photo of Paul Blomfield Paul Blomfield Labour, Sheffield Central

commented that it was odd not to have witnesses representing students, either from the NUS or those who had participated in QAA audits.

reminded the Committee that further witnesses could be heard on Thursday if an amendment to the programme order were tabled and accepted at the start of the sitting on Thursday morning, although it would be a starred amendment and therefore subject to the Chair’s discretion.

Photo of Wes Streeting Wes Streeting Labour, Ilford North

made a declaration of interest as a member of the advisory panel for the University Partnerships Programme Foundation.

Photo of Valerie Vaz Valerie Vaz Labour, Walsall South

asked whether there had been any discussions about how the change in the machinery of government would affect the Bill, given that it would be split between two Departments.

Photo of Gordon Marsden Gordon Marsden Shadow Minister (Business, Innovation and Skills), Shadow Minister (Education)

repeated his view that representatives of the NUS should be called as witnesses, stating that input from students was crucial, and this should be accommodated by the programming motion allowing half an hour on Thursday.

repeated his advice regarding the tabling of an amendment to the programme order adding further witnesses, saying that the amendment would be a starred amendment and therefore subject to the Chair’s discretion, and that, if selected, it would be taken at the start of business on Thursday.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved,

That, subject to the discretion of the Chair, any written evidence received by the Committee shall be reported to the House for publication.—(Joseph Johnson.)

Resolved,

That, at this and any subsequent meeting at which oral evidence is to be heard, the Committee shall sit in private until the witnesses are admitted.—(Joseph Johnson.)

The Committee deliberated in private.