Universities: Financial Sustainability

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:26 pm on 11th February 2019.

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Photo of Chris Skidmore Chris Skidmore Vice-Chair, Conservative Party, Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Universities and Science) (Joint with the Department for Education) 4:26 pm, 11th February 2019

It is important to say, going back historically, that the hon. Gentleman is talking about the 1992 era. I was 11 at the time, and we need to move forward to the 21st century and have a unity of purpose that means we should ultimately want to do what is in the best interests of students. We should celebrate the fact that the a record level of students are now going to university—around 39%—but we also have to make sure that we get post-18 education right, so that we do not allow students to drop out if that course is not appropriate for them. I am delighted that the Minister with responsibility for further education—the Minister for Apprenticeships and Skills, my right hon. Friend Anne Milton —is sitting here today. We work closely together to make sure that we have a unified position that will benefit all students. When it comes to Brexit and the issue of student numbers, recent figures show that the number of EU students applying for universities has not fallen. It has risen—figures were published last week—and I welcome the fact that we need to highlight the opportunities that will be available in our world-leading universities.