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The Royal Society comments on the announcement of new amendments to the Higher Education and Research Bill

28 February 2017

Commenting on the announcement of new amendments to the Higher Education and Research Bill, Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser FRS, chair of the Society’s Policy Advisory Group said:

“Government’s confirmation today that they plan to introduce amendments to the Higher Education and Research Bill that will require the Secretary of State, or UKRI, to consult with stakeholders before making any changes to the fields of activities or names of the Councils is very welcome. The Society has called for this throughout debate of the Bill.

“The Society called for an Executive Committee of UKRI’s Councils’ Executive Chairs to be on the face of the Bill and government’s commitment to place this within UKRI’s legal framework is welcome.

“Also helpful is greater clarification of how Innovate UK’s business-facing focus will be maintained. There are considerable benefits in creating an integrated funding body, however it is essential that Innovate UK’s unique business-facing focus and links to its customer base are not put at risk.

“The government has also brought amendments that will place the Haldane Principle on the face of the Bill. The Society has previously said that expertise and evidence are needed to ensure that excellence is reflected in decision making.

“It is important that UKRI and OfS can cooperate on issues at the interface between teaching and research. The proposal to require both UKRI and the OfS to report on cooperation with the other organisation in their annual reports is helpful.”