In one of the fastest and most humiliating u-turns of the Tory-led Government, David Willetts has been forced to drop plans to allow wealthy families to buy university places for students who cannot get through the normal admissions process.
Willetts made his climb down after being forced to the Commons to defend his proposals which he set out in today’s Guardian and this morning’s Today programme. Even David Cameron was forced to slap down his Higher Education Minister in the chaos that followed.
John Denham MP, Labour’s Shadow Business Secretary, said:
“Despite this u-turn, Willetts has failed to reassure on some of the big questions about funding by employers and charities.
“Will places provided ‘off-quota’ be subject to the same rules on social access as all other places?
“Will all students entering mainstream courses –those not run for specific employers but open to all applicants – be selected by the university, or will employers be allowed to make the final choice?
“Will all students have to meet the full university application requirements or will employers and charities be able to select students who have met the minimum academic requirement but who have failed to do well enough to gain a place in their own right?
“I think it is clear that the Government still intends to create a two tier system; one method of entry for the most able; another for those with access to private funds from one source or another.”