A pledge by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to abolish tuition fees and reintroduce maintenance grants will go out to consultation within the party, according to Blackpool South MP Gordon Marsden.
Mr Marsden, who has been appointed as shadow minister for higher education, further education and skills in the new shadow team, said the party’s position would go “into a consultation process, and it’s really important we have a far more inclusive consultation within the party than we’ve had in the past.”
Speaking to Times Higher Education at Labour’s conference in Brighton, Mr Marsden said the country was at “a stage of critical decisions about funding” of universities “and some of the really big issues around the black hole that’s developing over non-repayment of loans”.
Mr Marsden, who previously served on both the Education and Skills and Business, Innovation and Skills select committees, continued: “I was very pleased that one of the things Jeremy Corbyn said during his campaign was about the need for a national lifelong learning strategy.”
Other crucial topics, he said, would be devolution not just to the nations of the UK but to combined authorities in the regions, as well as the role of Local Enterprise Partnerships.
He said these areas “will begin to play a more significant role in looking at higher education simply because that’s the direction of travel in government, and significant sums of money will be hived off from central government”.
I was very pleased that one of the things Jeremy Corbyn said during his campaign was about the need for a national lifelong learning strategyMP Gordon Marsden
Local authorities in Lancashire are currently considering the potential for a combined authority for the county.
In addition, Mr Marsden said he wanted to “challenge and hold the government to account where they’re bringing forward new proposals”.