Higher Education

Innovation, Universities and Skills written question – answered on 15th October 2008.

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Photo of Tim Boswell Tim Boswell Conservative, Daventry

To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills if he will convene a Joint Ministerial Committee with counterparts in the devolved administrations to co-ordinate policies and action in the field of higher education.

Photo of David Lammy David Lammy Minister of State (Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills) (Higher Education & Intellectual Property)

A good deal of higher education policy is devolved. It is for different Administrations to decide their policies and they will not always agree on the right way forward. For example, we believe it is fair to ask undergraduates to make a contribution to the cost of their higher education, and that the revenue provided by their fees is important if universities are to deliver world-class teaching. The Scottish Executive has different policies.

Where there is a continuing UK-wide arrangement, notably in the Research Councils' funding, officials and ministers work closely with their counterparts in the devolved Administrations. Where matters are devolved, there are appropriate levels of contact between DIUS and the devolved Administrations to discuss developments and share information, which reflects the importance the Government place on the relationship between the Administrations.

My predecessor, my hon. Friend Bill Rammell, appeared before the Welsh Affairs Select Committee on 15 July 2008. In a letter sent to the chair of that Committee following the Committee meeting, he stated that he was willing to take part in meetings with his counterparts in the devolved Administrations. I agree with this approach.

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