Today in the House of Commons, Jesse Norman took the opportunity to tell the Prime Minister about Herefordshire's new technology and engineering university project - and urged him and the Chancellor to get behind it.
Today in the House of Commons, Hereford and South Herefordshire MP Jesse Norman took the opportunity to tell the Prime Minister about Herefordshire's new technology and engineering university project - and urged him and the Chancellor to get behind it.
Jesse first made the argument for a university of Herefordshire in 2009. Since then the project, which is led by local businesswoman Karen Usher, has gathered huge local support. It has attracted the backing of a number of established universities in England and the USA as well as from many local and national business leaders, and from Herefordshire Council.
Local fundraising has so far raised £1m to get the project started. Professional fundraisers, master planners and architects are already retained and at work. The next step is to raise the capital funding that will allow the project to develop a curriculum, recruit senior staff and fit out a suitable premises.
Speaking after PMQs, Jesse said: "The new university is a transformative project that has the potential to lift wages and transform the economy in Herefordshire. I will continue to make the case for this project at the highest levels of Government."
Jesse Norman (Hereford and South Herefordshire) (Con):
The whole of Herefordshire is behind a transformative project to create a new university specialising in engineering and technology, and, in particular, the agri-technology, defence and security sectors.
That is only possible because of the Government's universities policy and their decision to lift the cap on student numbers. Will the Prime Minister look hard, with the Chancellor, at the potential to award some public capital funding to support this enormously worthwhile project?
The Prime Minister:
My hon. Friend is right to say that uncapping university numbers removes the cap on aspiration. We want to have a country where everyone can have the choice of an apprenticeship or a university place. He is right that some areas of our country, including Herefordshire, have been under-served by university provision, which is why we have got the extra £200 million available in the Higher Education Funding Council for England to support STEM--science, technology, engineering and maths--capital investment. I know he is discussing this with the Chancellor to see whether we could make available some of this funding for the scheme he talked about. Let me say how important it is that we maintain a long-term plan for funding our universities. Young people in Britain want to know that we have the best universities in Europe and that they will continue to be that way. That is why what the university vice-chancellors have said this week about how our plans are working and costed, and Labour plans are completely unworking and uncosted, is so important.