Degree plans get backing from MP

A PIONEERING scheme to offer university degrees at a high school has gained the backing of a top government minister.

David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science, supported proposals for a degree programme at Methwold High School on Monday.

Mr Willetts met Elizabeth Truss, MP for South West Norfolk, Denise Walker, head teacher of Methwold High, and Dr Duncan Harris to discuss the scheme.

Ms Walker said: “I am pleased such a radical model has been received so enthusiastically by the minister.

“We look forward to his continued support and advice, because I believe this innovative thinking will help shape the future of education, particularly in rural areas.”

The school plans to provide courses in law, business administration, leisure management, sports science and education from September.

All the courses will be taught in partnership with universities, with Loughborough College and Royal Holloway College mooted as potential partners.

Mr Willetts said he was delighted with the meeting.

“This innovative project is very much of the type the Business Secretary, Vince Cable, and I wish to encourage as we work to enable greater diversity in higher education provision,” he said.

Ms Walker has previously identified what she called the ‘considerable social, cultural and economic deprivation’ of Methwold’s catchment area as a catalyst for the proposals.

Courses are expected to cost around £8,000 over four or five years.

It is felt that the plans could help students avoid the normal levels of debts associated with university level education.

Ms Truss called the meeting ‘positive’.

“I will seek to ensure that the minister’s enthusiasm translates into positive support for the scheme,” she said.