Educational Aspirations

Oral Answers to Questions — Innovation, Universities and Skills – in the House of Commons at 10:30 am on 20th November 2008.

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Photo of Kerry McCarthy Kerry McCarthy PPS (Rt Hon Douglas Alexander, Secretary of State), Department for International Development 10:30 am, 20th November 2008

What steps he is taking to raise the aspirations of young people from all backgrounds to go to university.

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Photo of David Lammy David Lammy Minister of State (Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills) (Higher Education & Intellectual Property)

The Government have a well-founded set of policies to raise the aspirations of young people. I was delighted that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State recently announced that nine selective universities have committed themselves to giving the best performing pupils from the most challenging backgrounds the opportunity to show what they can achieve.

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Photo of Kerry McCarthy Kerry McCarthy PPS (Rt Hon Douglas Alexander, Secretary of State), Department for International Development

I thank the Minister for that response. There are many young people in my constituency who certainly have the talent and the drive to succeed at university, but who still do not think that it is for the likes of them. Does my right hon. Friend appreciate the value of mentoring schemes such as those operated by the Aimhigher scheme? Can he also tell the House what work his Department is doing with the Department for Children, Schools and Families to ensure that those schemes are rolled out in schools, so that people are encouraged to go to university?

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Photo of David Lammy David Lammy Minister of State (Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills) (Higher Education & Intellectual Property)

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that question. She is right to say that many young people in Britain still do not imagine themselves worthy of going to university, because they cannot see themselves doing so and have no role models in their communities who have done so before. Indeed, many of us were the first in our families to go to university. I hope that my hon. Friend is pleased that we have extended the Aimhigher programme to include Aimhigher associates, so that we now have 5,500 young people who are already at university going back into schools throughout the country, including her constituency, connecting with 21,000 young people and bringing the experience of what it means to go to university to them for the first time.

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