HC Deb 12 April 1989 vol 150 cc523-4W
Mr. Greg Knight

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what steps the Government are taking to widen access to higher education; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Kenneth Baker

Access courses provide an important means of increasing the participation in higher education of mature students without the traditional qualifications for entry to degree courses. My Department has encouraged the Council for National Academic Awards and the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals to devise a national framework for the recognition of such courses, and a steering committee was established to oversee this work. That committee has now proposed a transbinary framework to be administered by a central body which will invite higher education institutions and consortia validating access courses to apply for a franchise through which their courses will acquire a kitemark' of national recognition. I have written to the chairman of the CNAA, Sir Bryan Nicholson, and to the chairman of the CVCP, Sir Mark Richmond, to invite the CNAA and CVCP jointly to administer the recognition scheme on behalf of both the universities and the polytechnics and colleges. The establishment of a national framework marks an important step towards improving access opportunities for mature students.