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

I accept that universities have to be transparent when making it clear that they are assessing people strictly on merit and that applications are all determined on merit. However, I fear that that is not what widening participation is about. There is a different agenda altogether, which is reflected in the statutory guidance, in some of the funding mechanisms that the Government have put in place, and, in particular, in policies relating to education. I am happy to go into those, but I think that I would be trespassing on your patience, Mr. Gale. You have already been extremely patient. I will try to make some progress, but I can give Labour Members chapter and verse of where academic merit has been overridden in the name of—I hesitate to use the phrase ''social engineering'', so I will use the Government's own choice of words—''a broadly based intake''.