Gavin urges UK Government to place students at the heart of their education
Gavin Newlands, MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North, has written to the UK Government and urged them to ensure that students are placed at the heart of the decision making on their education.
The UK Government are pushing forward with their Higher Education Bill which intends to establish an Office for Students that aims to ‘promote the student interest and value for money, and reduce the regulatory burden on the sector.’
However, despite pleas from students, the UK Government has stated that there will be no opportunity for student representatives to be on the board for The Office of Students.
As such, Mr Newlands has written to Jo Johnson MP, Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation to demand that a place is provided for students on the board of The Office for Students.
Gavin Newlands, MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North, said:
“The proposed Office for Students will have wide reaching power that will have a significant impact on the lives of students and also those who aspire to study at English universities. However, despite this, we’re left in a ridiculous situation where there will be no students allowed to sit on the board of The Office for Students.
“Although this mainly affects students down South, we need to be mindful of the consequences that this will have on higher education in Scotland. In addition, it’s important to remember that a significant amount of students from Renfrewshire will choose to study at an English university.
“The UK Government shouldn’t be afraid to listen and engage with the views of students. They can be a critical and honest voice and help improve the decision making process by explaining and detailing the impact that any decision will have on the lives of students. If this ridiculous situation is not reversed, the UK Government has no option but to rename The Office for Students as The Office about Students.”
Vonnie Sandlan, NUS Scotland President, said:
"An Office for Students with no student input is an oxymoron. Scotland has, rightly, put the concept of student partnership at the centre of our education system - I hope that Jo Johnson will take the time to research the positive impact this has on our colleges and universities.
"While education is devolved, we’ve seen countless examples in the past, in areas like tuition fees, where actions south of the border have had a knock on effects in Scotland. The letter from Gavin Newlands MP is incredibly welcome, highlighting that this issue will have impact on students across the UK, including those Scottish students studying in England.
It’s crucial that students, politicians, and all those with an interest in education across the UK stand in solidarity with counterparts in England and Wales in calling for students’ interests to be at the absolute heart of any reforms."