Labour appoints Emma Hardy to English higher education brief

Hull West and Hessle MP, a former teacher and union official, replaces Gordon Marsden

January 8, 2020

Former teacher Emma Hardy has been appointed Labour’s new shadow further education and higher education minister for England.

The Hull West and Hessle MP replaces Gordon Marsden, who lost his Blackpool South seat at the general election.

Ms Hardy was brought up near Hull, studied politics at the University of Liverpool and took a postgraduate certificate in education at the University of Leeds, before becoming a primary school teacher in Hull.

She then worked as a National Union of Teachers official before becoming an MP in 2017, since when she has been a member of the Commons Education Committee.

Ms Hardy previously served as parliamentary private secretary to Sir Keir Starmer, Labour’s shadow secretary of state for exiting the European Union, now one of the favourites to become party leader.

In 2017, during a debate in the House of Commons, Ms Hardy spoke in support of Labour’s policy to abolish tuition fees, saying “the current model of ever-increasing tuition fees and student loans does not work for students or our universities. Because so little is repaid, I do not believe it works for the Treasury either.”

She also called for the government to support universities in their overseas student recruitment and to address the decline in part-time and mature student recruitment, while describing the salaries of some vice-chancellors as “obscene”.

Ms Hardy said: “I will use my new position to push for increased funding for FE and HE, a high focus on quality vocational training and apprenticeships and access and support for children with SEND [special educational needs and disabilities] too.

“I now have a great opportunity to help children across the country to unlock their full potential by ensuring the government provides the necessary educational resources, funding and infrastructure that our children and young adults require.”

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