My Lords, I welcome these regulations, because I well appreciate the difficulty that the higher education sector is in, as the noble Lord, Lord Desai, referred to a moment ago. I draw attention to my interests in the register.
I have a couple of concrete questions and concerns for the Minister. One is about the devolved Administrations and those universities we have heard several noble Lords talk about. I note that the Government are giving rescue funding for research and innovation; will the Minister be able to tell us whether that funding, which is dispersed through UKRI, will be available to all the universities in the devolved Administrations? That would ensure that while Scottish and Welsh universities may lose out from English student attendance, they will not go short on research funding. Will the Minister also be able to tell us whether they will be eligible for the long-term, low-interest loans that the Government are offering?
My second point is about students who are being assessed at the moment through the new assessment process due to Covid, and who are hoping to enter university. Will the numerical caps that the Government are putting into place exempt students from disadvantaged backgrounds and allow those students who have the credentials in terms of marks to be allowed to exceed the numbers if they are part of the widening participation plans—APPs—that universities offer? Those students, more than any others, need all the support they can get at this time of economic stress.