In November 2015 the government published a Green Paper Fulfilling our Potential: Teaching Excellence, Social Mobility and Student Choice which outlined proposals to reshape the HE landscape, raise standards and increase competition in the sector. The White Paper echoes the proposals in the Green Paper and proposes creating: a single route into the HE sector, the Teaching and Excellence Framework, the Office for Students and UK Research and Innovation.

Since 2010 the HE sector has undergone a period of reform. The most significant changes have been the removal of the block grant for most university teaching, the introduction of tuition fees of up to £9,000 per year and the widening of the sector to alternative providers. 

All of the recent changes to the HE system have been made without passing primary legislation and the somewhat ad hoc nature of the changes have created a rather complicated regulatory system and led to calls for a higher education bill.

In November 2015 the government published a Green Paper Fulfilling our Potential: Teaching Excellence, Social Mobility and Student Choice which outlined proposals to reshape the HE landscape, raise standards and increase competition in the sector.  The Green Paper received over 600 responses – these responses were published on 16 May 2016 alongside a Higher Education White Paper – Success as a Knowledge Economy: Teaching, Social Mobility and Student Choice.

The White Paper echoes the proposals in the Green Paper and focuses on three main areas, creating a competitive market, choice for students and updating the regulatory architecture. The Papers main proposals are to:

  • move to a risk-based regulatory framework
  • create a single entry route into the HE sector
  • introduce a Teaching and Excellence Framework (TEF) to raise the quality and status of teaching in higher education institutions
  • create a new body the Office for Students (OFS)
  • create a new overarching research body, UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)

The proposals in the White Paper have been included in a Bill – the Higher Education and Research Bill which was presented in Parliament on 19 May 2016. The Bill and accompanying documents are available on the Parliament website at Higher Education and Research Bill 2016-17