Reading my Higher, I see that they have caught up with the views I expressed nearly three months ago, and reported that the application of the AAB+ policy may result in unlawful discrimination. What the Higher still doesn't communicate very clearly, though, is that it is difficult to amend the policy to meet this problem. Even if HEFCE could devise a pan-European AAB+ equivalency matrix (which would hardly be straightforward in the time allowed - we are talking about Christmas 2011) the HESA codes do not exist to report qualifications such as the Arbitur to the level of detail required. If you haven't got the data, you can't operate the policy.
Of course if HEFCE had ample time, we could create new HESA codes, require institutions to amend their data collection systems to meet the new requirement and start collecting the data they want for the policy they have. But if you announced those codes now, institutions could use them for 2012 entry at the earliest. The resulting data would be reported to HESA in October 2013 and HEFCE could use it to inform student number caps for 2014/15. I don't think that is Mr Willetts' timetable.