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 Graham Allen Graham Allen Labour, Nottingham North 10:45 am, 4th March 2004

The hon. Gentleman obviously has to make his points about the straw man—that OFFA will try to impose unqualified or less suitably qualified people on universities. I accept that that argument is an aspect of the party political battle, but no one has said anything to sustain it.

I want to ask the hon. Gentleman a personal question. Imagine a young person, not from a

privileged background, who had fought very hard and worked his way through difficult educational circumstances to get a couple of A-levels. He applies to a university and is given preference over people who are better qualified. Can the hon. Gentleman put himself in the position of that young person and imagine how he would feel? He would not want to be in that situation and would rather go to a university that is appropriate for his level of qualification. He would not want to be a fish out of water or seen as in some way inferior to his peers. Were this straw man actual policy—it is not—it would not benefit even the individuals to whom the hon. Gentleman refers, but would make them feel worse and would lessen their educational attainment.