Higher Education Bill

[Mr. Roger Gale in the Chair]

9:10 am
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Mr Alan Johnson (Minister of State (Lifelong Learning, Further and Higher Education), Department for Education and Skills; Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle, Labour)

On a point of order, Mr. Gale. I want to rectify an error that I inadvertently made when we debated amendments Nos. 260 and 182 on part-time students last week. I said that the Open university had 28,000 students, but that is the number of part-time students who get fee remission across the sector. The actual number of students at the university is an incredible 200,000. I thought it best to make that clear so that staff there did not wake up thinking that they had lost about 180,000 students.

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Mr Roger Gale (North Thanet, Conservative)

Happily, that is not a point of order for me, but it is now a matter of record.

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Mr Graham Allen (Nottingham North, Labour)

On a point of order, Mr. Gale. The Minister kindly agreed to supply all members of the Committee, through your good self, with a list of the universities offering bursaries that will come on top of the £3,000 grant in the Bill. I very much appreciate the fact that he has responded quickly but, in his desire to do so, he may inadvertently not have given us the complete picture. I know from my researchers that, as well as the four universities mentioned in his letter, another five—

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Mr Roger Gale (North Thanet, Conservative)

Order. Nice try, but that is obviously not a point of order for the Chair. The hon. Gentleman is seeking to make it a matter of record. Of course, it would be perfectly reasonable for him to ask the Minister to update or amend his letter.

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Mr Graham Allen (Nottingham North, Labour)

In light of your guidance, Mr. Gale, I wonder whether the Minister could update his letter, given that even I have been able to obtain that information through my sources. Could the Department write to individual universities to ask what the current position is?

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Mr Roger Gale (North Thanet, Conservative)

That is not a point of order for me either, but the Minister will have heard the hon. Gentleman's comments.

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Mr James Clappison (Hertsmere, Conservative)

Further to that point of order, Mr. Gale. When the Minister writes to us, could he also update us on the thresholds below which such bursaries will be available? Even at Cambridge—the most generous case that the Government have put before us—help will be available only below a very low threshold of about £15,000.

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Mr Roger Gale (North Thanet, Conservative)

Once again, that is not a point of order for me, but the Minister will have heard the hon. Gentleman's comments.Clause 30 General duties of relevant authority