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A bunch of news from the UK: fresh appointments, alternative proposals, new regulatory authority

Damien Hinds. Source:                           Sam Gyimah. Source:


The year begins with some brand-new appointments in the UK government – along with some important news regarding its higher education sector. On 8 January, MP Damien Hinds was given the role of Secretary of State for Education. Mr Hinds has already unveiled his ambition to drive up UK education standards, so as to bring more job opportunities in the most needed areas. Contextually, MP Sam Gyimah was appointed Minister for Universities and Science, replacing previous role holder Jo Johnson (now Minister for Transports).
Moreover, education in UK may see some important changes in the next months: in December the government has launched consultations on two-year accelerated degrees which will run until February 2018. If the Parliament approves such proposal, students will be able to choose to embark on two-years bachelors instead of the standard three-year-long ones, saving 20 per cent of the total tuition costs. 
This proposal comes as a result of the April 2017 Higher Education and Research Act, which is intended to create a new regulatory framework for higher education and increase students’ choice. As a matter of fact, another important news introduced by the Act is the Office for Students (OfS), a government-approved regulatory and competition authority for the higher education sector in England, which entered into force on 1 January 2018. The OfS merges the previous Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and the Office for Fair Access. From these previous offices, it inherited the funding responsibilities and the responsibility for promoting fair access to higher education.