Science groups claims legislation will undermine universities’ independence

A group of scientists is calling on the UK government to amend a higher education bill that is set to make sweeping changes to university research and teaching.

The Higher Education and Research Bill, which is currently making its way through parliament, will establish a Teaching Excellence Framework (Tef) that will link teaching standards with the ability to raise tuition fees. All seven funding councils will also be brought under the control of one body, UK Research and Innovation.

But the creation of a new university regulator, the Office for Students (OfS), has drawn the ire of the scientific community. The OfS will have the power to stop a university awarding degrees. Under the proposed bill, the universities minister can also give the OfS advice on what courses should be taught at university – something that Science is Vital, a grassroots campaign to preserve UK science funding, says undermines universities’ independence.

Science is Vital opposes this move and has called on members of the public to write to their local MP about the bill. The group has also proposed that an OfS decision to revoke degree-granting powers should require parliamentary approval.