‘The UK government has suffered a surprise defeat in the House of Lords over its plans to link English universities’ performance in the teaching excellence framework to the tuition fees that they are allowed to charge.
Peers backed by 263 to 211 an amendment that says that the results of the TEF should not be used to determine the fees that an institution can charge, or the number of students – domestic or international – that they can recruit.
The amendment to the Higher Education and Research Bill was proposed by crossbencher Lord Kerslake, Labour’s Lord Stevenson of Balmacara and Liberal Democrat Baroness Garden of Frognal.
The vote is a significant blow for Jo Johnson, the universities minister, coming after he unveiled a host of amendments to the legislation in the hope of steering it through the upper house.’ – Times Higher Education
‘In a speech proposing the amendment, Lord Kerslake accepted the necessity of a framework to evaluate the quality of teaching and that “student fees need to be able to rise to reflect inflation.”
However, he argued that the TEF is “not ready” to calculate teaching quality with any certainty. He also noted that “the TEF rating will relate to the university, not the subject or course”, meaning that “it is perfectly possible to have a mediocre course in an otherwise excellent university, and indeed vice versa”, potentially resulting in an unfair assessment of fees for individual students.
Baroness Deech, also speaking in support of the motion, added that if the link between the TEF and tuition fees were allowed to stand, “the established - we might say “better” - universities will be able to charge more and will attract those students who can afford to pay it and who can afford to choose. By and large - of course not always -less-established universities will come out lower and will not be able to raise their fees. Not so well-off students will go to them.”’ - Varsity