Amendment to the Motion

Part of Higher Education (Fee Limits and Student Support) (England) (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020 - Motion to Approve – in the House of Lords at 5:20 pm on 2nd July 2020.

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Photo of Lord Liddle Lord Liddle Labour 5:20 pm, 2nd July 2020

My Lords, I understand the logic of this instrument as a temporary, short-term measure; the noble Lord, Lord Parkinson, explained its logic with great clarity. I also share the concerns about devolution set out in the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Bassam.

I speak as chair of Lancaster University and have that as one of my interests on the register. For Lancaster, the last decade has been a very good one. We have seen a 25% growth in student numbers, and we have expanded in areas that are the national priorities: engineering, the medical school, science—all have grown. This has, in part, been financed by our success in recruiting Chinese students. Clearly, there is a short-term issue with Covid-19, and longer-term issues with our relations with China, particularly now over Hong Kong.

We are devising our strategy for recovery from Covid-19. What are the planning assumptions we should make? Will the Minister give us an assurance that this is temporary, that we will be able to continue to recruit students in the years ahead? When will the Government clarify what the domestic fee level will be in those years ahead?

One of the reasons I like Lancaster a lot is that it combines excellence with equity, and I have great sympathy with what noble Lords, starting with the noble Lord, Lord Blunkett, have said, about the impact of this measure of control at a time that is going to see a crisis in unemployment, particularly youth unemployment. I know the Government want to increase apprenticeships, but there is a huge challenge there; the numbers are actually down. It is a tremendous shame that we are imposing an artificial limit on the recruitment of students from deprived backgrounds in this measure, and it must not continue.