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Higher Education and Research Bill - Committee (6th Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 6:45 pm on 25th January 2017.

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Photo of Lord Judd Lord Judd Labour 6:45 pm, 25th January 2017

My Lords, I, too, am glad to have my name on the amendment. Appreciation and tribute should be offered to those universities which of their own initiative are doing what they can to meet the challenge in the current situation, but that is obviously not adequate.

In the long debates on this Bill, we have constantly returned to the argument about the quality and tradition of our universities. It is really rather sad to see universities with that quality and tradition caught up in such an oppressive and negative administrative policy.

I relate this to another amendment which we shall discuss quite soon, about security and terrorism. In the awful problems relating to security which we face, a key issue is the battle for the minds of the young. We want young people to have good education which helps them to form a more responsible and enlightened view about society and their role within it.

The potential students to whom we refer have been through the most dreadful experiences. It is important to keep reminding ourselves of that: they have been through harrowing experiences, and very seldom is it their fault. We have to look at the situation as they see it, and how they talk of it with their friends and contemporaries. They see it as oppressive and negative. It is not helping to build stability and peace in the world. If we take security and peace in the world seriously, we should want to do everything we can to meet this challenge and to enable potential students to have the advantage of education. I very much hope that the Minister will take on board the seriousness of this issue and try to meet it in some way in his response.

I sometimes worry already about the anecdotal evidence that I hear about how negative attitudes are beginning to build up across the world, and not just in the places from where those potential students come. I worry about how far the United Kingdom is really the sort of place in which they want to come and study, whether it really is the warm, welcoming society which it has traditionally been. There is too much evidence of a culture of “no”, of rejection, unless there is an exception. This amendment would help to meet that situation and I hope that the Minister will find an opportunity to say something positive in response.