Higher education

This page highlights some of the current parliamentary material available on higher education. This includes select committee reports, briefing papers on current legislation and other subjects produced by the parliamentary research services, and the latest Early Day Motions put down by MPs.

Standard Notes

31.10.2014HE in England from 2012: Student numbers
New students starting higher education in England in 2012 faced higher tuition fees, potentially higher loan interest rates and longer loan durations. The Government has also introducing a new 'core and margin' model which introduces an element of competition into the allocation of student numbers between institutions. The impact of these changes on potential students and student numbers is seen as one key test of the success of the Government's reforms to higher education in England. The number of new fell in 2012 as it did when fees were first introduced and then raised in the past. Any long term change to student numbers would also have important implications for the financial health of the higher education sector and the UK economy.
31.10.2014HE in England from 2012: Funding and finance
The Government raised the cap on tuition fees for new student to 9,000 in 2012/13 and cut most ongoing direct public funding for tuition in England. This shifted the balance of higher education funding further away from the state and further towards the individual who benefits. Students can take out publicly subsided student loans to pay these higher fees. There is uncertainty about the final size of this subsidy and the Government's estimate of it has increased considerably since the reforms were first announced. This also affects the size of any saving in public expenditure and the extent of the shift in costs from the state to the individual beneficiary.
28.10.2014Student loan statistics
Student loans are the main method of direct government support for higher education students. Money is loaned to students at a subsidised rate to help towards their maintenance costs and to cover the cost of tuition fees. Currently more than 10 billion is loaned to students each year. This is expected to grow rapidly over the new few years and the Government expects the value of outstanding loans to reach over 100 billion (2014 15 prices) in 2018 and continue to increase in real terms to around 330 billion (2014 15 prices) by the middle of this century.
17.10.2014Education expenditure: Social Indicators page
Updated to include spending figures published in Public Expenditure Statistical Analysis 2014
01.09.2014Participation in higher education: Social Indicators page
Trends in participation including new figures for 2012/13

Research Papers

03.09.2014Social Indicators
This Research Paper summarises a wide range of social statistics. Subjects covered include agriculture, crime, defence, education, elections, environment and energy, health, housing, local government, population and migration, social security and transport.
05.05.2011Education Bill: Committee Stage Report
This is an account of the House of Commons Committee Stage of the Education Bill. It complements Research Paper 11/14, prepared for the Commons Second Reading debate, which examines the range of matters covered by the Bill. As originally presented, the Bill sought to make provision relating to the National Assembly for Wales' framework powers. However, these clauses were removed from the Bill following the 'yes' vote in the Welsh Devolution Referendum. A Government amendment to clause 13 (reporting restrictions on alleged offences by teachers) was agreed to without a vote. This inserted new schedule 11B into the Education Act 2002, and was introduced to secure compliance with a European Electronic Commerce Directive. Several minor and technical Government amendments were also made to the Bill. The Opposition tabled many amendments, a considerable number of which were pressed to a division, but none was successful.
07.02.2011Education Bill [Bill 137 of 2010-11]
This paper has been written for the House of Commons Second Reading debate on the Education Bill [Bill 137] on 8 February 2011. The Bill seeks to implement the legislative proposals in the Department for Education's schools White Paper, 'The Importance of Teaching', and measures from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills relating to skills and the reform of higher education funding. It is therefore a very wide-ranging Bill.
18.12.2007Sale of Student Loans Bill Committee Stage Report, Bill 13 of 2007-08
Sale of Student Loans Bill Committee Stage Report. (Bill 13 of 2007-08). House of Commons Library Research Paper 07/92.
15.11.2007Sale of Student Loans Bill, Bill 6 of 2007/08.
Sale of Student Loans Bill. (Bill 6 of 2007/08). House of commons Library Research Paper 07/78.

Select Committee Reports

13.03.2012Modernisation of higher education in Europe.
European Union Select Committee (HL) report [Lords]
20.10.2011Student visas follow-up report.
Government response. Home Affairs Select Committee report [Commons]
18.07.2011Student visas follow-up report.
Government response. Home Affairs Select Committee report [Commons]
11.05.2011Regulating financial sustainability in higher education.
Public Accounts Committee report [Commons]
15.03.2011Student visas.
Home Affairs Select Committee report [Commons]

Early Day Motions

That this House congratulates Heriot-Watt University on becoming the first in Scotland to offer a full-time MA in British Sign Language (BSL); notes with concern that there are only ...
That this House expresses sadness at the death of Scottish comedy star Steve Robertson MBE; believes that he will be remembered with great affection as one-third of the Scotland The ...
That this House notes the Birmingham University Guild of Students is running disciplinary proceedings against Edward Bauer, the elected Sabbatical Vice President (Education) of the ...
<p>That this House condemns proposals put forward by the Scottish Government in Holyrood to force Scottish universities to merge and in so doing undermining their academic and administrative ...
That this House is concerned by the possible expansion of for-profit providers in the higher education sector; is further concerned that the world-class teaching and research of the ...

Lords Library Notes

09.06.2011Education Bill (HL Bill 67 of 2010-12)
This Library Note provides information for the second reading of the Education Bill in the House of Lords.

POST Papers

08.03.2013STEM education for 14-19 year olds
This POSTnote reviews the current state of STEM education for 14-19 year olds in the UK, highlighting key challenges and ongoing policy reforms.
01.01.2007Strategic science, January 2007
Strategic science, January 2007. POSTnote 07/277.


  • Research Papers (RP) - briefings produced by the House of Commons Library on Bills, topical issues and regular statistics
  • Standard Notes (SN) - shorter, topical briefings from the Commons Library
  • Early Day Motions (EDMs) - formal motions submitted by MPs in the House of Commons
  • POST Notes - short briefing notes produced by the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology
  • Lords Library Notes (LLN) - papers compiled by the House of Lords Library on Bills and for debates in the Lords
  • Select Committee Reports - papers produced by all select committees of both Houses