The Higher Education Authority Bill 2022 will be pushed back to autumn. The bill will not be pushed through before the Oireachtas summer recess.
It was originally expected that the bill would be passed in both houses of the Oireachtas before the summer recess, as government had intended.
The bill has faced significant opposition from many Senators, including David Norris and Alice-Mary Higgins, who have criticised the pace at which the legislation has been pushed through the Oireachtas.
At a debate last week, in the third legislative stage of the Seanad, only six out of a total of 329 proposed amendments to the bill were discussed, with a guillotine imposed on the debate meaning that the remainder were automatically defeated.
On Tuesday, July 12, further amendments to the bill were discussed at a debate which was not guillotined. The decision not to pass the bill in the Seanad before Friday, when the Seanad will break for summer recess, means that it will be delayed until the autumn when the houses of the Oireachtas reconvene.
The bill has been highly controversial among both students and senators. This week, an open letter addressed toMinister for Further and Higher Education, Innovation, Research and Science Simon Harris signed by numerous students’ unions condemned the rushing of the bill through the Seanad.
Senators too have condemned the pace of the legislation, arguing in last week’s debate that the Bill “should not be rushed through” and should be allowed to be debated “for as long as is required”.
The HEA Bill 2022 proposes significant changes to how universities are funded and governed. These comprise the biggest overhaul of the University sector in 50 years, and include a greatly increased role for government in management of the higher education sector.