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House of Commons Hansard
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06 January 2016
Volume 604
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8. What discussions he has had with the Scottish Government on increasing the number of undergraduates attending Scottish universities. [902850]

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I regularly discuss a range of matters with the Scottish Government. Although higher education is a devolved matter, the available figures show that application rates for those aged 18 in 2014 and 19 in 2015 were 37% in Scotland compared with 44% in England. [Interruption.]

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Order. I also wish to hear the voice of Christchurch on the matter of Scottish universities.

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How can it be in the United Kingdom national interest that school leavers from Scotland are being denied access to their own universities because of the arbitrary cap on numbers imposed by the Scottish Government, when school leavers with lower qualifications from the rest of the UK are able to gain such access?

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My hon. Friend makes an important point. Students from my constituency have been refused entry to Scottish universities because of the cap imposed by the Scottish Government; we hear a lot about free tuition in Scotland but that is one of the consequences, and I am sure it will be part of the debate in the forthcoming Scottish Parliament elections.

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As the hon. Member for Christchurch (Mr Chope) knows, the Scottish Affairs Committee has been looking into higher education, specifically into a post-study work scheme for Scotland. What the Secretary of State will find is that everybody—the universities, the trade unions, and the employers’ association—wants that scheme for Scotland. Will he now be a Secretary of State for Scotland and put that case to the Home Office?

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We always listen with interest and take forward in a positive way anything that is forthcoming from the Scottish Affairs Committee, and I look forward to reading the hon. Gentleman’s report.

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Last but not least Mr Philip Hollobone.