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NUS responds to higher education green paper

Friday 6 November 2015 NUS News

NUS is today responding to the government’s higher education green paper, which outlines ‘ambitious proposals to put students at the heart of higher education’.

The government has today outlined new proposals for the higher education sector within its ‘Fulfilling our Potential: Teaching Excellence, Social Mobility and Student Choice’ green paper.

NUS will be examining the proposals in detail and working with students’ unions to make recommendations.

In particular, the proposal for the new Office for Students must be built around the student voice.

Regulation is a crucial issue, and NUS wants to see tough regulations to ensure that students are protected and receiving a high quality education.

The paper prioritises high quality teaching, which is fundamental to the education system. Whilst NUS believes all students should have access to high quality teaching, we oppose further rises in tuition fees and a focus on teaching should not be linked to fees.

The government has taken into account NUS’ work on the importance of widening access for all students. Access to education is prioritised in the green paper and the government has set ambitious targets, but serious consideration of students’ achievement levels and employment prospects must be a key factor.

Responding to the green paper, NUS National President, Megan Dunn said that both NUS and students' unions ‘will be going through the consultation in full detail, and will make sure the student voice is too loud for the government to ignore.’

Megan also cited the importance of any changes being led by those directly involved with HE themselves: ‘Change should be driven by the people at the heart of the system – students, teachers and staff. It will not be good enough for the government and institutions to decide what is in students’ interests without asking them.'

On access, Megan added: ‘It is reassuring to see the government putting access to education at the heart of their proposals, but we must see action as well as promises.'

She concluded that: ‘Teaching should always be a key focus of higher education but NUS is adamant that the Teaching Excellence Framework should not be linked to an increase in fees. Students should not be treated like consumers.’

NUS Vice President (Higher Education)Sorana Vieru said ‘This green paper constitutes the biggest changes to higher education since 1992; it changes the landscape of institutions allowing private providers to enter the sector under the false belief that competition drives quality.

‘We believe properly funding our institutions is what drives quality – not raising tuition fees and pitting providers against each other.

‘This green paper talks about entry and exit to the system - this is the university Hunger Games and the ones losing out are students and academics.‘

NUS will be outling our recommendations to the green paper following our full analysis and consultation with students' unions.