A meeting of the Assembly at the University took place on 11 March 2016 to consider two motions: one in relation to the Higher Education Green Paper (which has subsequently progressed through to a White Paper and now is a Higher Education and Research Bill) and one in relation to Prevent (part of the Government’s strategy to reduce terrorism in the UK). Following discussion, both motions were passed with a significant majority.
Read more on the motions from Assembly
The Assembly is not a decision-making body, but it is able to make recommendations to the University Council and the Senate. Both motions have since been discussed at Council and Senate. There has also been discussion at other meetings including Steering Committee and a Heads of Department (HoDs) meeting. At all of these meetings, there was detailed discussion about the Assembly motions.
Higher Education and Research Bill: next steps
The Council noted that it had independently reached similar views as the Assembly on the proposals for reform in the sector and was in sympathy with the views expressed at Assembly on the Green Paper. The Senate noted that the White Paper had developed from the Green Paper without incorporating the publicised views of the sector. Stuart has met directly with Jo Johnson, as Secretary of State for Higher Education (recently reappointed as Minister for Universities and Science), as well as exchanging correspondence with him on this matter. He called for the White Paper to be paused in light of the EU referendum results and the accompanying political uncertainty this would bring for the sector, a request which has not been supported by the Secretary of State. Stuart has also engaged in meetings with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (now the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) and with mission groups such as the Russell Group, as well as contributing to the CBI’s engagement on the Bill.
The Bill had its second reading in the House of Commons on Tuesday 19 July. It was passed with a majority of 36 and will now move to committee stage when Parliament returns in September. The committee will analyse the Bill in close detail, and will consider amendments proposed by MPs and by outside organisations. Once amended, the Commons will debate the Bill in its entirety for the third reading. The University will continue to seek to influence the development of the Bill.
Prevent: next steps
The Assembly requested ‘minimum’ compliance with Prevent. The University is legally bound to implement Prevent as it is a statutory duty. The Council confirmed that the University would continue to take an approach of ‘appropriate compliance’ with the Prevent Duty, whilst ensuring this was implemented in a way that protected academic freedom and was non-discriminatory – the Council noted the importance of these principles. The University will therefore implement the Prevent duty with this level of compliance. A Prevent Reference Group has been established to facilitate consultation with the University community, chaired by the VC and comprising:
- Justine Mercer who proposed the motion on Prevent at the Assembly;
- Charlotte Heath-Kelly, an academic specialist in the field of British counter-terrorism policy (identified at the Assembly);
- Luke Pilot, incoming President of the Students’ Union.
If you’re interested in contributing to the group, please get in touch via one of the following email addresses, by the end of August.
• Stuart Croft (S.Croft@warwick.ac.uk)
• Charlotte Heath Kelly (C.Heath-Kelly@warwick.ac.uk)
• Justine Mercer (Justine.Mercer@warwick.ac.uk)
• Luke Pilot (Luke.Pilot@warwicksu.com)
To date, there have been 13 colleagues who’ve expressed an interest in joining. A HEFCE representative may also be invited to meet the group.