Students’ Return to Universities

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:43 pm on 29th September 2020.

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Photo of Robert Halfon Robert Halfon Chair, Education Committee, Chair, Education Committee 12:43 pm, 29th September 2020

Thank you, Mr Speaker —much appreciated.

I strongly welcome today’s remarkable announcement on skills, which we should all celebrate, and I thank my right hon. Friend, and the Universities Minister, for the work that they are doing on universities. There are 3,000 students, roughly, in lockdown at the moment. All I ask of my right hon. Friend is that if that number grows dramatically—to 10,000, 15,000, or 20,000—he review the current policy, which he set out today.

May I also ask my right hon. Friend specifically about a long-term issue that has been exposed by the coronavirus? Of state school pupils, 45% go on to higher education; of pupils on free school meals, it is 26%; and of white working-class boys on free school meals, it is just 13%. What are my right hon Friend, and the Universities Minister, doing to reverse that and to ensure that more white working-class boys and girls go to university?