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

No. The hon. Gentleman has a lot of experience in the sector, but I think that universities largely take merit into account. It is in their interest that they do so because they want to reach the highest possible standards. They will do that by admitting people on merit, as far as they possibly can, which means admitting the best possible students. If a student from a difficult background, who has perhaps not had the same educational advantages as others, has merit, they will adjust things accordingly.

The question is how to interpret the principle of merit. The financial pressure that the measure creates wholly overrides the principle of merit and is all about a broadly based intake. The hon. Gentleman has made a number of interventions, and my hon. Friend the Member for Daventry has been patient. I will return to the hon. Gentleman as I have a question that I want to ask him later on, to which the Committee needs to know the answer.