Clause 30 - General duties of relevant authority

Part of Higher Education Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:45 am on 4th March 2004.

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Photo of James Clappison James Clappison Conservative, Hertsmere 10:45 am, 4th March 2004

The hon. Gentleman made a lengthy speech, so I will give way to him later, perhaps when he has heard the full extent of my remarks. I know his thinking on the issue and I agree with much of what he says.

The guidance refers to ''a broadly based intake''. That is the bottom line for the Government as far as the universities and the director of fair access—the whole caboodle—are concerned. The Government owe it to the Committee and the universities to tell us precisely what that phrase means. What are the size and nature of the hoops that universities will be required to jump through? I think that it will create distortions and possible unfairness in the system. There will certainly be a widespread perception of unfairness.

Sir Howard Newby, who, as the chief executive of HEFCE, should know what he is talking about, predicted today that there will be a large influx of students from EU accession countries. That is his prediction, not mine. He thinks that the 5,000 undergraduates from those countries could rise to at least 20,000. Will they come under the remit of the director of fair access? Will they be regarded as part of a broadly based intake or will they be exempt from the attentions of—[Interruption.] The hon. Member for Worcester (Mr. Foster) disagrees, but I am only quoting the words of the Government and Sir Howard Newby.

Several hon. Members rose—