NUS warn Scottish universities not to adopt UK reforms
Plans to reform higher education south of the border could damage the success of universities in Scotland, the National Union of Students (NUS) in Scotland has warned.
In a new higher education green paper the UK Government plans to widen participation and drive up teaching quality through a Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), which sets out criteria for universities to compete over who has the best teaching.
In a written response, NUS Scotland said the plans had “too narrow a focus” and should instead concentrate on learning outcomes.
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Scotland has “rightly rejected” the “consumerist model of higher education”, says NUS Scotland, warning Scottish universities not to get dragged into fulfilling the necessary metrics to compete.
Successful partnerships and innovation could be affected, NUS Scotland warns, as well as a “race to the top” in fees to bridge a potential funding gap.
Rob Henthorn, NUS Scotland Vice President (Education), said the UK Government’s vision shouldn’t apply in Scotland.
“We hope that Scottish universities, and the wider sector, will join us in rejecting the premise of the Green Paper and what it stands for. The introduction of TEF flies in the face everything the Scottish education system celebrates, particularly our commitment to treating students as partners in their education, as opposed to the consumerist model the Green Paper adopts,” he said.
Part of the UK Government plans is to establish a new regulator, Office for Students, to promote student interests. It would be formed by merging the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and the Office for Fair Access (OFFA).
Universities and Science Minister Jo Johnson said: “The new Office for Students would have a clear remit to champion value for money and the student interest in its decision-making. And by opening up the sector to new universities and colleges, students will have more choice than ever when they come to apply to university.”