24 February 2022
Jesse Norman questions Government on Higher Education reforms

Following the Secretary of State for Education's statement on Higher Education Reform, Jesse Norman asks how the reforms will meet the twin goals of quality and inclusiveness.

Jesse Norman (Hereford and South Herefordshire) (Con)

I must say that I particularly welcome the Secretary of State’s opening statement about Ukraine. If this country has one institution that speaks for liberality, openness of vision, and conversation across cultures and across parts of our nation, it is the university. His statement at the beginning was absolutely right, and I welcome it.

I hugely welcome the measures that the Secretary of State set out. I congratulate him and the Minister for Higher and Further Education on their work, particularly its focus on quality and inclusiveness together. I can tell them both from a Herefordshire perspective that if someone is coming out of a career serving Her Majesty in the Army or the special forces, the chance to go back and learn as a mature student and pick up a lifelong learning entitlement is of inestimable value. We should massively welcome it across the Chamber.

I also hugely welcome the combination of HE and FE. Skills-based higher education is absolutely vital. As for this conception among the Opposition that there is some lack of ambition, nothing could be further—

Mr Deputy Speaker (Mr Nigel Evans)

Order. Please could we have the question?

Jesse Norman 

Of course, Mr Deputy Speaker—in my exuberance, I was enjoying that. Could I ask the Secretary of State to talk just a little more about how the package will work and how it will meet the twin goals of quality and inclusiveness, which are so central to our future development as a nation?

Nadhim Zahawi (The Secretary of State for Education)

I am grateful for my right hon. Friend’s support for the package. He is absolutely right to cite those who come out of their time serving their country with the opportunity to feel that their Government will stand behind them for the equivalent of a four-year degree course. Crucially, they can pull it down in modules, which speaks to the dynamic high-skills, high-productivity economy. That will make a difference. On his point about inclusion, I know that he has been a great champion of the New Model Institute for Technology and Engineering in his constituency. That innovation in our HE sector is equally important. I see it as a priority in our levelling-up agenda.