Controversial and still very much under consideration, there are many opinions on the Higher Education and Research bill which had its Second Reading in July 2016. The mood of many in the sector is of uncertainty, but there are those who see opportunities. Leading the charge is James Dyson (The Guardian, 4 November) with the commitment to setting up the Dyson institute of technology, which he believes is necessary to address the chronic skills gap in engineering in the UK.
In Scotland, the reaction to the HE and Research Bill (where it will not apply) has caused alarm according to Professor Tim O’Shea threatening to impact the international reputation of Scottish institutions if more private providers are awarded university status in England and Wales. (The Herald, 26 October).
In an article that resonates very clearly with Dr Barnes’ views, Professor Ian Walmsley (Huffington Post 11 November) outlines how fundamentally important the HE sector is in the UK for driving forward science and research, much more so than in other countries. He argues that the current bill needs to ensure a strong voice for the sector to help drive the UK’s competitiveness overall.