News worth repeating

June 12, 1998

We hope you enjoyed hearing about the new Pounds 143 million for student access trumpeted this week by the education department - because the reality will be an awful lot less pleasurable.

Headlined "Blunkett pledges Pounds 143 million package to boost access" and saying "David Blunkett today announced details of a Pounds 143 million package of measures", most readers glancing over the Department for Education and Employment announcement would have thought that there was an additional Pounds 143 million for higher education access.

Apparently, many Labour MPs planning to vote for rebel amendments in Monday's report stage of the Teaching and Higher Education Bill thought the same. And they, not the general public, were the true targets for the announcement. In fact, only Pounds 3 million of the amount was new money, providing loans for students aged 50 to 54. Confronted with this, a spokeswoman for the DFEE said: "It is true that we had rebels trying to stop the bill going forward. It was just an announcement to say what extra we were doing for higher education. But you are quite right in that, er, a lot of what was in it has already been said."

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