Education Questions and Statement on Higher Education

At Education Questions on Monday 17 July I asked the Secretary of State Gillian Keegan MP a question.

I asked: “The Secretary of State told the media at the weekend that she had found the money for the pay settlement from an underspend in the Department. Can she tell the House exactly where she found the money and what policies have not been delivered?”

The Secretary of State answered by saying: “I am delighted to. We have a constructive relationship with the Treasury, whether on childcare, school funding or extra budgeting, and in this particular case what we have done, as I have done many times in my 30-year business career, is to go through every line of the budget. We spend £100 billion on education, so there are a lot of things in that budget, and we have gone through it and checked every single assumption. Some are demand led and some depend on the roll-out of certain projects. We have protected the frontline and reprioritised; what has changed is that the Treasury has allowed us to keep that money to reprioritise.”

The Secretary of State did not answer the question. This has to come from the Government and cannot fall on our schools’ budget.

After Questions there was  the Higher Education Reform Statement, I asked the Secretary of State:

“May I ask the Secretary of State, because she has not actually spelt this out, what is a low-value degree?”

The Secretary of State said: “In relation to low-value degrees, an example of the quality provisions we have introduced for the Office for Students is B3, which is about: whether students continue in their degree, because clearly if they drop out, it is not of much value; whether they complete their degree, because clearly if they do not complete it, it is of zero value; and whether they get a job or progress into higher education afterwards. Those are the three quality measures we look at. Right now, the Office for Students is looking at 18 providers and two specific areas—business and management, and computer science—because there is a massive range in what people can expect to earn from jobs having followed one course or others, all of which seem to have the same name. There are quality issues, and we want to make sure that they are thoroughly investigated. The Office for Students is doing that.”

Despite the Secretary of State’s answer, it is still not clear what low-value degrees are.