Clause 30 - General duties of relevant authority

Part of Higher Education Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 9:45 am on 4th March 2004.

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Photo of Chris Grayling Chris Grayling Shadow Minister (Education) 9:45 am, 4th March 2004

It has been quite interesting to have conversations with vice-chancellors during the past two or three months. Their perspective on the access regulator has changed by the week. About three months ago, they were saying that the change was not particularly dramatic. During the past couple of weeks, they have been getting quite worried about it, as the comments that Ministers have been making about the access regulator's powers and aspirations have become more and more tough.

The Minister has said that the regulator will have teeth. I do not believe that one can have a light touch and teeth in the same regulatory body. In reality, it will be a vehicle to compel universities to change the mix of

students that they admit in the future. I accept the points that the hon. Member for Bury, North made about admissions and applications, but I do not accept that they are separable concepts. The two are integrally linked—the consequences of one are integrated with the other.