MPs tackled education minister over scandal involving taxpayer-funded university courses for high-income people following an investigation by the Independent.
The government has agreed to take action to end the misuse of the apprenticeship fee to subsidize ‘ineligible MBA courses’ for top executives.
Appearing before the education committee, Skills and Practices Minister Robert Halfon questioned whether the funds had been “properly used”.
The chairman of the committee, Tory MP Robin Walker, pointed this out Independents of the inquiry and asked Mr Halfon: “Given the need for young people to find work and build a ladder of opportunities, do you think this was an appropriate use of the apprenticeship fee?”
Halfon told the committee that ministers would “get rid of the MBA element” in 2021.
But Independent revealed earlier this month that courses are still subsidized despite government crackdowns two years ago.
Over the past five years, up to £100m has been spent partially funding them.
On Monday, the minister said: “If there is evidence that the fee is being spent on ineligible courses, such as MBA funding, we will take appropriate action.”
Examples submitted to the Department of Education include Loughborough University, which prides itself on its website: “The three-year Loughborough Executive MBA program is designed to also meet the Level 7 Senior Leadership Apprenticeship requirements.” Adding that “this enables applicants and their employers to use the tuition fee to partially fund the MBA program.”
Also included is Cranfield University, which says: “This [web] the site is for students looking for a Senior Leadership + Executive MBA Internship through the Internship Fee. Eligible organizations may use their Apprenticeship Fee to cover part 1 of the program tuition.”
Former Tory Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has previously said the courses are “not in the spirit of what the Apprenticeship Fee was set up for”.
Former Labor Party Education Secretary Alan Johnson also hit it off, saying the funding “is nonsense in terms of the purpose of the fee. It was supposed to help young people get into work, not help management get into the sauce.”