HC Deb 24 June 1965 vol 714 cc1927-8
23. Mr. Park

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will introduce legislation to enable the State registration and inspection of correspondence colleges.

Mr. Crosland

No, Sir. I am awaiting the submission to me of a draft scheme for the establishment of a national accrediting body for correspondence colleges, and I believe that such a development is likely to provide the best means of achieving a general improvement in the standards of correspondence education.

Mr. Park

I thank my right hon. Friend for that Answer. Is he aware that the courses offered by many of the commercial correspondence colleges are often of a very low quality? Is he also aware that students are often exploited by tricks of salesmanship and that the purpose of these institutions is not, in fact, education but the amassing of profit? Would he not therefore agree that there can be no effective supervision by any body which is dominated by the commercial colleges themselves and that only inspection and registration by his Department will bring about the improvements which are necessary?

Mr. Crosland

I am certainly aware that there is a lot that is unsatisfactory in the present situation regarding correspondence education. It was for that reason that we set up the committee which is now sitting under the chairmanship of Dr. Gurr, who was recently the Chief Education Officer for Middlesex. I believe that that was the right way to go about it, because had we chosen the alternative suggested by my hon. Friend, it would have taken a great deal longer and would have required legislation. I believe that the course we have taken is by far the quickest method of trying to cure what is unsatisfactory in the situation. As to what may come out of this, I envisage that a national accrediting committee or body will be set up, and that the chairman and at least half the members should be appointed by me so that the independent members appointed by the Secretary of State will be in the majority on that body.