Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Tories Pledge Tougher Visas While Labour Alters Funding Plans for £6K Fees

Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Tories Pledge Tougher Visas While Labour Alters Funding Plans for £6K Fees

Article excerpt

The Conservatives have pledged a further toughening of student visa rules in their manifesto, along with an apparent goal to create a "teaching REF".

Meanwhile, Labour's manifesto introduced a claim that the party's policy to lower fees to £6,000 would be part funded by "clamping down on tax avoidance".

And the Green Party's manifesto committed to a policy to abolish tuition fees, which it says would cost £8 billion a year in the long run, as well as to cancel student debt, which it costs at £2.2 billion a year.

Of the manifestos published as Times Higher Education went to press, the Tory document, published on 14 April, says that the party would "introduce a framework to recognise universities offering the highest teaching quality".

David Willetts, the former universities and science minister, is thought to have privately discussed the introduction of a teaching equivalent of the research excellence framework, which could potentially be used to allocate some funding.

Reacting to the manifesto, Mr Willetts told THE that there "needn't be a single measure" of teaching quality, but the goal should be "improving the data". He added that "down the track we would see if money then flowed as a result".

The manifesto also says that the Tories would "ensure that universities deliver the best possible value for money to students" and "require more data" to be available on graduate employment outcomes. This echoes recent government moves that would enable the ranking of institutions on the earnings of their graduates.

Also in the document is a pledge to "keep our ambition of delivering annual net migration in the tens of thousands, not the hundreds of thousands", giving no indication that overseas students would be exempted. It also says that a Tory government would "reform" student visas "with new measures to tackle abuse and reduce the numbers of students overstaying". …

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