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.

Commons Briefing Papers

01.02.2016Education expenditure: Social Indicators page
Trends in spending since the late 1970s and international comparisons. Updated to include spending figures published in Public Expenditure Statistical Analysis 2014 and Education at a Glance 2014
29.01.2016HE 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.
22.01.2016Student loan statistics
Student loans are the main method of direct government support for higher education students. More than 10 billion is loaned to students each year, this is expected to grow rapidly and reach around 330 billion (2014-15 prices) by the middle of this century. The expansion of loans has raised questions about graduate repayments and ultimately the cost of the system to the taxpayer
19.01.2016Abolition of maintenance grants in England from 2016/17
The Summer Budget 2015 announced that grants would be replace with increased maintenance loans from 2016/17. This change could have an impact on efforts to widen participation in higher education and on long-term public finances.
18.01.2016The value of student maintenance support
How have student maintenance support levels changed over time? How has the balance between grants and loans changed? What will the Chancellor's Budget announcement on the ending of grants mean to this and to potential students?
11.01.2016Support for higher education students with discretionary leave to remain
This briefing gives and overview of student support arrangements for students with limited and discretionary leave to remain in the UK and discusses recent policy developments since the Supreme Court judgement in the Tigere case in July 2015. The paper flags up the Department for Business and Skills consultation containing proposals to create a new category of student support eligibility which will apply to students with long term residency in the UK.
11.01.2016Reform of support for healthcare students in England
This note explains the proposed changes to funding for students on NHS funded courses in England, that lead to professional registration as nurses, midwives, or other allied health professionals as announced in the Spending Review and Autumn Statement 2015. From September 2017 NHS bursaries which provide tuition fee funding, grants and living cost support, will be replaced by funding through the standard student support package of loans. The paper provides background to the proposals, data on nursing and midwifery students and gives reaction to the proposals.
05.01.2016Reform of the Disabled Students' Allowance in England
This briefing gives details of the new Disabled Students' Allowances which were announced on 2 December 2015, the changes will come into effect in 2016/17. The changes aim to improve value for money and rebalance the distribution of responsibility for disabled students between HEIs and the Government. The briefing gives details of the new system, highlights issues and contains comment, it follows on from library briefing paper SN/SP/6013, Changes to the Disabled Students' Allowance (DSA), 14 October 2014.
05.01.2016Applicants and entrants to higher education: Social Indicators page
Brief snapshot of changes in applications and entrants to HE via UCAS
03.12.2015Introduction of loans for postgraduate students
This briefing provides details of the new postgraduate loan system, including the consultation and the reaction to the announcement of the scheme.

Lords Library Notes

23.11.2015Freedom of Speech in Higher Education Institutions
This Library Note has been prepared to support the debate in the House of Lords on the protection of freedom of speech in universities on 26 November 2015.
16.07.2015Debate on the Budget Statement
This Library Note provides background information on the Budget Statement which was delivered by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, on 8 July 2015. The Note provides a brief overview of some of the key Budget measures, before outlining the immediate reaction to the statement as expressed by members of the House of Commons and by a selection of organisations and commentators. It has been written to support the debate in the House of Lords on this subject scheduled to take place on 21 July 2015.
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.


19.10.2015Trends in ICT
This note looks at developments in information and communication technology (ICT) and their relevance for UK policy in the next five years. It examines the capability, use and economic impact of ICT; technical barriers; and implications for cybersecurity, privacy and internet governance.
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.

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 ...
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 ...


  • Commons Briefing Papers (CBP) Papers providing in-depth and impartial analysis on every major piece of primary legislation and on other topics of public and parliamentary concern. Regular statistics papers are also published.
  • Early Day Motions (EDMs) - formal motions submitted by MPs in the House of Commons
  • POSTnotes (POST PN) - proactive four-page policy briefings from the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology based on reviews of the research literature, interviews with stakeholders and peer review, commissioned by the POST Board
  • Lords Library Notes (LLN) - authored publications by the research section of the House of Lords Library that provide analysis of Bills, subjects for debate in the House and other issues of interest to Members.
  • Select Committee Reports - papers produced by all select committees of both Houses