There are currently 49 university technical colleges open or opening this month, and one is planning to open in 2018. We will publish information on new application arrangements in the coming weeks.
The Minister and the Secretary of State are both aware of our great ambition in Gloucester to create a new UTC for pathways into health and care —the two biggest sectors of employment in Gloucestershire —but since the cancellation of the last bidding round, the question is how and when we can take this forward. The Minister has suggested it will be soon, but can he give us any further idea?
We are committed to ensuring that many more young people have access to high-quality technical education, and UTCs have an important role to play in this. However, the experience of the UTC programme has been mixed to date. Our priority is to support existing UTCs, so that they are able to offer good education. We are learning lessons from those that are open at the moment, and we will publish application arrangements for new UTCs in the coming weeks.
Will the Minister join me in congratulating Alan Johnson, the former MP for Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle, who fought for many years to get the Ron Dearing UTC opened in Hull? It has actually opened its doors this morning for the very first time, and one of its priorities is to encourage more young women to study engineering and technical subjects.
I certainly add the Department’s and my congratulations to the hon. Lady’s. That is an important achievement, and we are strongly committed to the UTCs, which will help the Government in our ambition of creating parity of esteem between technical education and more academic routes.