HC Deb 31 July 1962 vol 664 cc391-3
17 and 18. Mr. G. Roberts

asked the Secretary for Technical Co-operation (1) if he is aware that many Commonwealth students in the United Kingdom experience particular difficulty in obtaining work during their vacation, especially of a kind which would provide them with practical experience of the professions and callings Which they intend to follow in their own countries; and what guidance his Department gives in this matter to the students concerned, Government Departments and agencies, and industry generally;

(2) how many Commonwealth students in the United Kingdom, following approved courses in scientific and technical subjects, are provided with practical training as part of their schemes of study; and what plans for extending such facilities for such students are under consideration by his Department.

Mr. Vosper

About 500 of the Commonwealth students and trainees in Britain now under arrangements made by my Department, for scientific and technical courses, get practical training as part of their courses, but my responsibility is confined to those who come under arrangements made wholly or partly by my Department. Such practical training is within the terms of reference of the Council for Technical Education and Training for Overseas Countries which I recently appointed.

The majority of Commonwealth students in Britain are not within my responsibility. They come privately or under arrangements made by their Governments or by other bodies. Where appeals for assistance are received which require a general approach in obtaining facilities for practical training for such students, my Department stands ready to give such advice and assistance as it properly can, though my ability to help in such oases is necessarily limited.

Mr. Roberts

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that two problems are involved? First, there is the need to provide opportunities for work for students generally from the Commonwealth because of the financial and social difficulty that afflicts them, especially during their long vacations When they cannot afford to return to their countries. Secondly, there is the special difficulty which affects the Commonwealth student who is here to pursue a professional course and finds grave difficulty in providing himself with practical training which is a necessary part of that course. In view of the fact that the Advisory Committee on facilities for Commonwealth trainees in British trade and industry now comes under his Department, would the right hon. Gentleman consider setting up a proper clearing house which will comprehensively assemble and manage the needs of the students on the one hand and the availability of positions for them in industry on the other?

Mr. Vosper

I should like to examine the problems arising out of the latter part of that supplementary question. This is a matter which comes within the terms of reference to the Committee I have recently set up. I am aware that there is a shortage of practical training places for some of these students, but most of them come to this country privately. I am only too willing to help collectively with particular problems, but I cannot act as an individual clearing house for each student who comes privately and finds that he is in difficulties.

Mr. G. M. Thomson

While paying tribute to the way in which the right hon. Gentleman looks after the 500 or so Who come under his responsibility, may I ask if he is aware that that is a small minority of the group and therefore there is a case for extending his responsibilities? Will he compare our record with the arrangement made by the West German Government and see how badly we come out of that comparison?

Mr. Vosper

The hon. Member is quite right in saying that I am responsible for a very small proportion. The majority come privately or are sponsored by overseas Governments. If those Governments put proposals before me and seek my help, I am only too willing to consider it, but I cannot do it for individual students who come privately.