Clause 16 - Lifelong learning: amendment of the Higher Education and Research Act 2017

Skills and Post-16 Education Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee am 9:25 am ar 7 Rhagfyr 2021.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Alex Burghart Alex Burghart The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education 9:25, 7 Rhagfyr 2021

Clause 16 amends the definition of “higher education course” in the Higher Education and Research Act 2017 to make express provision for the regulation of modules and to make it clear what a module of a higher education course is, as distinct from a full course.

The current post-18 student finance system does not specifically provide for modules. The lifelong loan entitlement will transform student finance by supporting more flexible and modular provision. This legislative change is needed to provide the explicit underpinning for the delivery of modular provision. This clause makes specific provision for modules by amending part 1 of HERA 2017, which relates to the regulatory regime under the Office for Students.

The amendments relieve higher education providers of certain additional burdens that would otherwise arise from the addition of the concept of modules under HERA.

Photo of Toby Perkins Toby Perkins Shadow Minister (Education)

I am grateful to the Minister for moving the clause; he was not here to move clauses 14 or 15 stand part. He has offered no apology to the Committee. As we did not have the opportunity to hear from him before those clauses were voted on, will he explain what happened this morning?

Photo of Alex Burghart Alex Burghart The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

I am happy to respond to the hon. Gentleman, and I apologise to the Committee: I was unexpectedly held up on my way here. I apologise to everyone for the inconvenience and for any discourtesy, particularly to you, Mrs Miller. The amendments relieve higher education providers of certain additional burdens that would otherwise arise from the addition of the concept of modules under HERA. These relate to certain requirements to provide or publish information under section 9 of that Act.

We want to reduce the bureaucratic burden on providers where possible, and these changes will ensure that the introduction of funding for modules through the LLE will not add to this.

We will consult on the detail and scope of the lifelong loan entitlement in due course. We will take this and other wider engagement into account before we reach a final position on fee limits and will bring forward further primary legislation on this matter.

Overall, the changes in the Bill will help to pave the way for more flexible study and for greater parity between further and higher education.

Photo of Toby Perkins Toby Perkins Shadow Minister (Education)

On a point of order, Mrs Miller. I appreciate the Minister’s apology—these things happen—but I was under the impression that in the event of a Minister being unable to move a motion someone else stands in. As a result of no one being here, clauses to the Government’s Bill have passed without debate. For those who made representations, that feels like quite a discourtesy.

I accept the Minister’s apology for his being unavoidably detained, but people listening to our deliberations might well wonder what the Government’s intentions are as the Bill has been unable to be amended.

May we have your advice on how this unavoidable situation can be put right so that people can at least understand the Government’s thinking?

Photo of Maria Miller Maria Miller Ceidwadwyr, Basingstoke

It is for the Government to decide how they deliberate on their business in the House. I certainly agree with Mr Perkins that it is unusual not to have a Minister here to move clauses, but the Minister has given us an explanation. New clause 1 has not been moved; it will be moved and voted on later. I think you have made your point, Mr Perkins.

Photo of Matt Western Matt Western Shadow Minister (Education)

In fact, there is no need to extend this debate.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 16 ordered to stand part of the Bill.