Statements, speeches and scrutiny

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The big news of the day is, of course, the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement. The BBC has been covering the story all day and has a summary of the headlines.

Elsewhere in Westminster, the Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill had its final day in Committee stage in the House of Lords on Monday. You can find a summary of the proposed amendments online, together with the transcript and video recording of the committee’s session. The Bill will now pass to the report stage.

The new Minister for Skills, Apprenticeships and Higher Education, Robert Halfon, also gave his first major speech in the role at Times Higher Education’s THE Campus Live event this week. Topics included decolonisation and degree apprenticeships.



The UUK President has called on politicians to “get serious” about declining university funding, but also urged institutions to drive efficiencies and ask themselves if there were things they “could potentially not do” to advance a bigger conversation on the sector’s future.

The University of Edinburgh has been in the headlines this week for all the wrong reasons due to the introduction of a new finance system. There have reportedly been significant problems with the system which have resulted in delayed payments to contractors, PhD students not receiving their stipends on time, and departments unable to place orders for supplies.

Meanwhile NUS has called on the Chancellor Jeremy Hunt to do more to help students with the rising cost of living, after its recent survey found that 42% of students were living off less than £100 per month. Despite soaring inflation and energy bills, the undergraduate student maintenance package in England rose just 2.3% this year, and students have been excluded from existing government support.


EDI and Participation

Advance HE has published its ‘Equality in higher education’ statistical report which covers staff and student data for the 2020/21 academic year and highlights opportunities and challenges regarding the promotion of equality, diversity and inclusion in UK higher education.

Meanwhile, findings from the National Education Opportunities Network suggest that the global goal of ensuring equal access to higher education by the end of the decade is now “highly unlikely” to be met, with progress seemingly going backwards because of an “equity crisis” fostered by the pandemic. THE has an analysis of the report.



OfS has appointed Nous Group to run a series of action learning sets to facilitate joint working between higher education providers and NHS partners to support student mental health. The aim is to enable higher education support services and NHS providers to build strategic relationships, learn lessons in real time and to disseminate learning and guidance to the higher education and health care sectors.

Over on the OfS website there is an article from their Student Engagement Manager on the importance of engaging with, and listening to, international students to ensure that they succeed in higher education.

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