The Academy of Social Sciences publishes its views on the government's Higher Education and Research Bill

Sharon Witherspoon photoThe Academy of Social Sciences, the representative body of UK social science organisations, including the BSA, has published its views on the government's Higher Education and Research Bill.

Its Head of Policy, Sharon Witherspoon, has presented its response to the Bill, which has now passed its House of Commons stages and is with the House of Lords.

Among other measures, the Bill will create an Office for Students, merging the Office for Fair Access with the learning and teaching functions of the Higher Education Funding Council for England (Hefce).

All seven research councils, Innovate UK and the research and innovation responsibilities of Hefce are to be brought together in a new quango called UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).

In her response, Sharon Witherspoon says that the Bill should be amended to make clear that the current system of dual funding of university research – in which funding is provided through a central body and also through various research councils – should continue. The Bill should make clear that decisions about which research to fund should stay with universities and research councils, she says.

She also says that the Bill should be amended to require UKRI to consult with research committees before any strategic plans are put forward.