The Union Responds to The Green Paper

Hannah Mason, Editor-in-Chief

In January, UCLan Students’ Union responded to the Government’s proposals in the The Green Paper.

A ‘Green Paper’ is a report of government proposals which is published in order to provoke discussion. Universities, Students’ Unions and other organisations concerned with Higher Education across the UK responded to the government’s proposed changes to the Higher Education sector.

The proposals include a range of measures to focus on the quality of teaching and encourage more students from widening participation backgrounds into going to University. These proposals came just weeks after another consultation assuring the standards of Higher Education in the UK.

The measures and changes proposed in the Green Paper include;

  • the creation of a Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) which would allow Universities that demonstrate excellent teaching to raise tuition fees above £9,000 in line with inflation.
  • merging the Office For Fair Access (OFFA) and Higher Education Funding Council England (HEFCE) to create the Office for Students which is intended to promote the student interest, ensure value for money and reduce the regulatory burden on the sector
  • allowing the Secretary of State to raise tuition fee caps in future without a vote in parliament
  • requiring Universities to comply with Consumer Protection Law and ensure greater protections for students
  • making Universities exempt from the Freedom of Information Act

There are stand out parts in the Union’s response to the Green Paper, including their view on the potential equality impacts with the Union stating, “we believe a number of groups of students will be negatively affected by these proposals. In particular due to the type of institutions that they are disproportionately represented in and/or their ability to exercise ‘choice within the HE sector because of their financial or personal circumstances.” 

Moreover, with UCLan Students’ Union being a clear advocate of widening participation, they reinforced this belief through another section of their response, “we’d highlight students from a range of backgrounds including students from low socio-economic backgrounds, BME, Muslim, part-time students and mature students are all likely to be debt adverse and are often limited in their choices of where they can study.”

SU President Josie Linsel spoke about working on the Green Paper.

“The HE Green Paper was a huge task,  especially because we had to make sure we got it right for our members. We’re also generally critical about what the proposals hope to achieve and the ways in which they will do so because this could be one of the biggest changes to HE in over 20 years and have a huge impact on students. We’ll update students when there is progress from the Government. In the meantime if you have any questions, or would like to see the responses feel free to email and we’ll answer as best we can.”

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