Two takes on DFEE research

November 19, 1999

The accusation in last week's front-page article ("Ministers accused of cover-up", THES, November 12) that the government suppressed information is nonsense.

In line with the code of practice on access to government information, my department publishes a list in the House of Commons library each January of the research it has undertaken in the previous year. This method of publishing market research is standard practice among big government departments. Full or summary versions of the research are available on request.

This is what happened in this case. The research, evaluating the Department for Education and Employment's student support information campaign, was completed in February 1998 and was therefore included in the annual list published in January 1999. It was this list, and subsequently the research report, that Don Foster, the Liberal Democrats' then education spokesman, received in July 1999 following his parliamentary question.

We carried out the research to ensure that the information being provided to prospective students was clear and to address any concerns they had. The facts are that the number of full-time and part-time mature undergraduates entering higher education in 1998-99 showed little change from the year before.

Baroness Blackstone Minister of state, Department for Education and Employment

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