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Part of Higher Education and Research Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:45 pm on 13th October 2016.

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Photo of Jo Johnson Jo Johnson Minister of State (Department for Education) (Universities and Science) (Joint with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy), Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Universities and Science) (Joint with the Department for Education) 3:45 pm, 13th October 2016

The hon. Gentleman and I have discussed part-time and mature students as part of the bigger picture. We also went through the mature numbers in some detail on Tuesday, and from recollection, mature numbers are actually now at a record level. I am probably going to get this wrong, but I believe they are at around 83,000 in the last full year, exceeding the previous high of around 82,000 a few years ago, so we are now back on track. Mature numbers certainly took a dip but they are now back at record levels.

We acknowledge and agree that we want to address the decline in part-time numbers. The origins of that fall are complex but they certainly predate the start of the increased tuition fee era, as we discussed on Tuesday. Some of the origins of the decline can be traced back to the Labour Government’s imposition of the equivalent and lower qualification restriction, which we are now in the process of lifting.