Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Statutory Instruments

What are these things?
And why am I writing about them?

Contrary to my normal practice I am writing a blog post almost from scratch in order to provide a response to a question about the fees for higher education courses.

Question 1
Where can I find details of the Act of Parliament which allowed HEIs to charge up to £9,000 for a course of study?

Answer 1
You can’t.
The change was an amendment of the Higher Education Act 2004 which defined tuition fees. See Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Higher_Education_Act_2004 which appears to be an accurate reflection of the situation and is clearly written.
The change to the rate of tuition fees that may be charged was effected by a Statutory Instrument.

Question 2
What’s a Statutory Instrument?

Answer 2
For this I turned to parliament.uk where I found:
Statutory Instruments, also known as SIs, are a form of legislation which allow the provisions of an Act of Parliament to be subsequently brought into force or altered without Parliament having to pass a new Act. They are also referred to as secondary, delegated or subordinate legislation.
It is often useful when questioning the provisions of or campaigning for or against some legislation to check whether the legislation provides for amendment by SI (most do these days) and whether any limitation is set in law as to the action which can be proposed by the Secretary of State.

Question 3 – which I asked of myself
Now you find the SI that changed the fees to “up to £9k”?

Answer 3
No, I can’t.
But you are welcome to try for yourselves.

The Education (Fees and Awards) (England) Regulations 2007 (SI 2007 No. 779) provides an example of the sort of thing I am up against when trying to find the specific Statutory Instrument that allowed the up to £9k fees. The introduction to SI 2008 No. 779 says:
The Secretary of State for Education and Skills makes the following Regulations in exercise of the powers conferred by sections 1 and 2 of the Education (Fees and Awards) Act 1983(1).
(1)1983 c.40. Section 1 was amended by the Education Reform Act 1988 (c.40), Schedule 12, paragraph 91; the Further and Higher Education Act 1992 (c.13), Schedule 8, paragraph 19; the Education Act 1994 (c. 30), Schedule 2, paragraph 7; the Education Act 1996 (c.56), Schedule 37, paragraph 57; the Teaching and Higher Education Act 1998 (c. 30), Schedule 3, paragraph 5; the Learning and Skills Act 2000 (c.21) Schedule 9, paragraphs 1 and 11; the Education Act 2002 (c.32) Schedule 21, paragraph 5 and the Education Act 2005 (c.18) Schedule 14, paragraph 9. Section 2 was amended by the Teaching and Higher Education Act 1998, section 44 and Schedule 4.

Further amendments have been made by:

Education (Student Fees, Awards and Support) (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2007 (SI 2007 No. 2263)

The Education (Student Fees, Awards and Support) (Amendment) Regulations 2011 (SI 2011 No. 87)

The Education (Fees and Awards) (England) Regulations 2007 (Amendment) Regulations 2011 (SI 2011 No. 1987)

That’s your lot! I need a lie down after that. And, from now on, I will keep a much closer eye on Acts of Parliament affecting education and careers work and of the SIs that amend them.

I guess that’s another section in my Google doc that needs to be set up.

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