Higher Education

29th January 2009

Brooks Newmark raises concerns that in certain cases young women are being forced out of higher education when they fall pregnant.


Mr. Brooks Newmark (Braintree) (Con): What progress has been made on widening participation in higher education. [252516]

The Minister of State, Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (Mr. David Lammy): We continue to make encouraging progress with widening participation in higher education. The latest UCAS figures show that acceptances from England for 2008 are up by 7.4 per cent. on the same point last year, and this year's figures are the highest ever. That means that there are more students in higher education than a year ago, including a higher proportion from poorer backgrounds.

Mr. Newmark: I have a constituent who has been accepted as homeless and is on the homeless register. At 34 weeks pregnant, she has had to drop out of university after being told that until she has the baby, she is ineligible for housing benefit. Is the Minister aware that young people are being forced out of education for that reason and will he take action to ensure that those who fall pregnant while they are in higher education are not penalised?

Mr. Lammy: I am happy to look at the hon. Gentleman's constituent's problem, but I would say that such assistance is dependent on Government finance and the proposals to take £610 million out of my Department will not help.


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