Clause 30 - General duties of relevant authority

Part of Higher Education Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 9:10 am on 4th March 2004.

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Photo of Chris Grayling Chris Grayling Shadow Minister (Education) 9:10 am, 4th March 2004

Absolutely. The hon. Member for Bury, North is a distinguished Member of the House in the field of education. He has wide experience of his subject. I am sure that he, like my hon. Friends and I, spends time in universities talking to the people who run them about the range of activities that they carry out. I am sure that he has experienced at first hand programmes that are designed to widen participation. He must have seen that there is good best practice out there. Universities try to encourage people who might not traditionally have applied to those universities to go there.

The hon. Gentleman is now arguing not only that that work is not adequate, but that it should be dictated and its parameters should be established by an access regulator. The access regulator has the power to say, ''You will produce a plan for me with these four headings.'' If he is not satisfied with the plan, he does not have to accept it and if he does not accept it, the institution cannot levy fees. That is the bottom line. That is a pretty powerful sanction. Other institutions that tow the line would gain millions of pounds a year extra through the levying of fees, while an institution that could not reach an agreement with the access regulator would not be able to do so.