HC Deb 25 March 1965 vol 709 cc751-841

4.4 p.m.

Sir Edward Boyle (Birmingham, Handsworth)

I have feeling that there may come a time in the early hours of tomorrow morning when some Members will wish that the Question you were about to put, Mr. Speaker, had been carried.

As this is the first education debate since the appointment of the Secretary of State, I think that I should be voicing the feelings of the whole House if I welcomed him warmly to his present appointment. His contributions to our debates have always been greatly admired by Members on both sides of the House.

It is 18 months since the publication of the Robbins Report on Higher Education and the announcement that the then Government accepted its target figures of expansion for 1967–68 and 1973–74. I hope that the House will feel that it is right that we should come back for half a day to this subject, for two reasons. First, we have had important statements on higher education in this Parliament. There was the statement by the present Foreign Secretary in December on the teacher-training colleges. More recently there was the wide-ranging statement by the Secretary of State on universities and teacher supply on 24th February.

There is a second reason why I think that we should come back to this subject. The Robbins Committee never considered that its Report should be the last word. Hon. Members may well recall that Chapter XVII of the Report suggested the setting up of what it called an authoritative and permanent body that could be asked from time to time to review the whole of higher education. I think that it is right that Parliament should from time to time consider, as I now propose to do, first, the total provision at which we are aiming and, secondly, the contribution of the various component parts of our system of higher education—the universities, the colleges of advanced technology which are just about to get university status, the technical colleges and, finally, the colleges of education. I will say a word about the contribution of each in turn.

I deal, first, with the total provision. The Secretary of State said in his statement in February that the Government accepted the objectives of 390,000 places in higher education by 1973–74 and 218,000 places in the universities. I should like to make two comments on that statement. First, I think that these figures have already been rendered obsolete, to some extent, by the march of events since the Robbins Report was published. After all, the targets in the Report were based on the assumption that 10.8 per cent. of the university age group would get two or more A levels by 1973.

Volume 3 of the statistics of the Department of Education and Science show that the figure of 10.8 per cent. is already out of date. The new prediction is 13 per cent., which is higher than the highest unpublished projection which Professor Moser and his statistical team considered possible when the Robbins Report was being prepared. It is not only higher than the earlier figure; it is higher than the highest projection considered possible at that time.

I do not want to stimulate yet one more of those leading articles in The Times, so may I make it clear at the start of this debate that no one is saying that two A levels should automatically qualify a pupil for university entry. The point about the two A levels is that it is the minimum qualification for university entry, and surely the trend in the numbers achieving it is a perfectly reasonable guide to the scale of higher education required. The whole point of the Robbins proposals—I think with respect, that this has been forgotten by some critics—was that it would have been wrong and grossly unfair to the schools to have allowed competition for university entry to grow still more acute than it was already. I believe that this was the right approach and that we should continue to use it as the basis of policy.

There is a second comment which I should like to make about the total provision. The Secretary of State's statement contained, 1 believe, one internal inconsistency of some importance. The right hon. Gentleman said that he accepted the total figure of 390,000 places and announced that 120,000 of those places would be in colleges of education. When one adds the 218,000 places in universities, it means on his figures that only 50,000 students will be taking full time courses of advanced study in regional and area technical colleges in 1973–74.

I will return to the very important part which these colleges have to play, but on that figure of 50,000 I can only say, in the words of, I think, Dr. Johnson, "Sir, do not let yourself be imposed on by such an absurdity". The numbers of students in those colleges taking full-time higher education will already have exceeded 50,000 in two years' time and there will be, on present projections, at least 70,000 by 1973–74.

Therefore, in my view, not only should the Government be ready to revise their total forecast upwards in response to steadily improving standards in the school, but I believe that even our existing plans imply a total of more than 390,000 in full time higher education by 1973–74.

Before I come to the component parts and start discussing the universities, I should like to welcome the fact that we now have not only one single Secretary of State for the whole of higher education, but the fact that there is one single permanent Secretary, one accounting officer, for the whole Department. I always believed that the two "units" must be a transitional phase which could last long. And I believe that academic freedom and all that goes with it is not inconsistent with a sense of social responsibility among autonomous institutions; nor is it incompatible with a sense of responsibility to this House.

It seems to me however much we value academic freedom that it is right, at the same time, to have more opportunities of discussing university matters in the House and I was glad to find an indication from the right hon. Gentleman the other day, in answer to a quite reasonable question, if rather strongly expressed by the hon. Member for Buckingham (Mr. Maxwell), that he is very much of this opinion.

Coming to the universities, I will speak, first, about the present and then say a word on the future. At present, we are engaged on the tremendous task of doubling university numbers within eight years and I believe I am right in saying, and I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to confirm, that we are on target for the 1967–68 objective, in the progression towards the figures at which we are aiming for those years. I hope that the party opposite have discovered that they were quite wrong when they suggested in their election manifesto that the Robbins expansion was being financed on the principal of cramming in students regardless of research standards; because the recurrent grant for the present quinquennium was calculated on the basis that the staff-student ratio in British universities, among the best in the world, will be fully maintained notwithstanding the very rapid increase in numbers.

Looking to the future I feel that the House must, after reflection, agree with the Government's decision that "no more additional universities or accessions to university status will be needed for about 10 years" with the one exception of the possibility of a completely new technical university institution in the North-East. The statement of the right hon. Gentleman on 24th February was bound to be disappointing, but I personally believe that this was a right decision for a number of reasons.

The first which the right hon. Gentleman mentioned was the consideration of cost and the second, the fact that what might be called the "older" civic universities are expanding faster than we had expected. Certainly, last year, when considering details of the Robbins expansion I always looked upon myself as trustee most of all for the interests of the older civic universities which do not get nearly enough attention in our society relative to Oxford and Cambridge and to what are called the "new" universities. The older civic universities are bearing a great burden of expansion at the present time, and expanding faster than many people had expected. The "new" universities are also rapidly getting off the ground.

Above all, a most important point which has been rather missed by public opinion is that on the Robbins figures there were only just over 20,000 extra numbers to play with between the 1967–68 target and the 1973–74 target. Even if, as I believe, it will have to be exceeded, and even if the difference turns out to be 25,000 or 30,000—something of that order —none the less, this not very large number of extra places will have to be divided among 41 existing institutions. That should be borne in mind by those who hope to see a number of other institutions raised to university status.

In the same way, I have no doubt that had my party formed the Government we should have reached the same decision of the basis of the so-called "SISTERS". I do not consider we need this new step in the hierarchy of university institutions and I feel that the whole SISTER concept was an attempt to regain what I venture to call the "Waverley-Cherwell" territory; because those two very distinguished men always wanted to concentrate applied science outside the universities. But this territory has now been abandoned. If one looks at the figures for Birmingham University, for example, one finds that in the year 1962–63 out of about 1,000 students entering, 267 entered to take courses in applied science.

I believe that this decision not to have a separate category of SISTERS was right. Equally, it was certainly right—and we should have done it—to build up the three special institutions, Imperial College, Manchester College of Science and Technology, and Strathclyde. Someone has said that we should give those three SISTERS "priority, though not sorority" and that is right. Of course, we are giving them priority. For instance between 1953 and 1968 Imperial College will have a capital building expansion programme of about £18½ million and its numbers will go up from 1,700 to 3,700. I hope that as far as Imperial College is concerned the right hon. Gentleman will not be put off by the Queen's Gate "lobby" which I see from this evening's paper has been very active. I myself was born in Queen's Gate, but I would hesitate to call it the most beautiful thoroughfare in London, as it has been described.

I am sure that hon. Members will hope that the right hon. Gentleman can say something more of his thinking on the new technological university for the North-East. As I answered the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, West (Dr. Bray) in a discussion on the Appropriations Bill last July, I hope that without unfairness I can quote a point he made on that occasion in urging the claims of Tees-side. There is a very large concentration of population there without a university institution, and a great deal of capital intensive industry.

Looking again to the future the university building programmes are firm up to 1966–67, but the final figures for the university building programme from 1967 onwards, as we always said when we were the Government, must await the results of the present obsolescence exercise. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will maintain the position that he does not finally decide on the size of the programme until he knows the results of the obsolescence exercise and that that should apply also to the possibility of extra money, outside the normal recurrent grant, to bring older laboratories up to date. My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg) made that point in the science debate last year. That should be included in the obsolescence exercise.

I would point to the right hon. Gentleman three questions about the universities. The first concerns the 1,500 empty places in science and technology. I am hoping that he will have something more to say to us on that. Certainly, as he fairly said, here is a case where the universities and the University Grants Committee have more than anticipated national needs and have, in effect, beaten the plans. But it is a worrying matter. After all, Table 8 of Volume 3 of the statistics shows in the sixth forms a rather disturbing relative swing away from science. The figures for A level physics were nearly 3,000 up between 1960 and 1961, but there was actually a slight fall in 1963 at a time when the total A levels went up by 12,000. The relative picture has changed a good deal, and, obviously, there is the danger here of a multiplier effect. If there is a change in the trend of those taking science and technology in the universities, this will be reflected back into sixth form teaching.

My second question is this: will the right hon. Gentleman go on being the Minister responsible for the work of the Science Research Council and the Medical Research Council, parts of whose work ties in so closely with the universities? As I think the House knows, when the Research Council starts up a university project, there comes a moment at the end of each quinquennium when the question has to be asked: should this work go on? If the university and the Research Council agree that it should, they have the choice either of asking the U.G.C. that the project should enjoy the same priority as the university's existing commitments, or that it should rank among the university's new proposals.

This system works well, and universities welcome the opportunity of merging into their general work of teaching and research new initiatives sponsored by the Research Council. Therefore, despite all the persuasive and able advocacy of the Economist, I believe that there is a strong case for not splitting up ministerial responsibility in this field.

My last question on the universities is this: what about the trend of post-graduate work? Is it not true that a higher proportion of abler students than many people realise is now getting four or even five years almost automatically? If this is so, this has important implications for broader first degree courses.

Those are my points on the universities, though when I come to the technical colleges I shall deal with the difficult issue of the many proposals for links between universities and non-autonomous institutions.

Next, I come to the colleges of advanced technology. Many of these will very shortly achieve university status. Six or seven draft charters have already been seen by the U.G.C. and some of them, including the Birmingham charter, are on their way to the Privy Council. Fears have been expressed that the C.A.T.s, when they become universities, will tend to shift from what one might call their industrial orientation. I have considerable sympathy with these anxieties. One cannot over-rate the importance of the C.A.T.s as pace-makers in our system of technical education. They played a great part in encouraging sandwich courses. The number of full time and sandwich courses at the C.A.T.s was up from 9,000 in 1961, to 12,000 last year, and the same is true of the Diplomas in Technology, which were running at the level of 129 in 1959–60, and 1,073 in 1963–64.

These anxieties may be exaggerated. It is obviously right that the C.A.T.s should broaden the base of their studies to include subjects like economics, social studies and languages. I think that for the most part the C.A.T.s do not want to become too academic. Certainly, the charter of the Birmingham College is specifically orientated towards industry and commerce, and, from my interesting experience of sitting on a selection board to choose the head of the department of general studies at the Birmingham College, I know that there was no desire, either on behalf of the principal, or on behalf of those who applied for the job, as it were, to get too academic and too remote from the general purposes of the college in the past. I also think that too much is being made of names and location. It is true that Battersea College is being renamed the University of Surrey, but there is a considerable concentration of light industry in the Guildford area.

But the pressures will be strong on the colleges when they receive their charters, to grow more academic, and I think that we ought to take seriously the article by Professor Sandford, in The Guardian recently on this subject. I hope that the colleges will continue to show the same sense of social responsibility that they have always shown, and that they will continue to lay stress on the sandwich course even if this means a good deal of tedious administrative work in finding the requisite places in industry. I hope, also, that they will concentrate on high level teaching as well as on learning and research. Obviously, the colleges cannot be just what they were before, plus the right to confer degrees—that would be unreasonable to expect—but their reputation should depend on their success in fostering what the Robbins Report rightly called the "new loook and new approach to education".

There is one other point in the Sandford article on which I should like to comment, where he talks about the need for industry—for firms which have worked in partnership with the colleges to develop the appropriate new administrative style now that the C.A.T.s are becoming autonomous institutions.

Now I come to the contribution of the technical colleges. This contribution, as I said, was bigger than the right hon. Gentleman's statement supposed. The technical colleges are playing an increasingly important part in our society as a whole. In support of that statement I can quote a source which I am pleased to quote. Lord Bowden, the Minister of State, at Peterborough last Friday, said: Since the White Paper on Technical Education of 1956, expenditure to the tune of nearly £200 million on technical colleges has been carried out or approved. This year the further education building programme is £17 million, next year £24 million, and the year after £27 million. All those programmes were, of course, fixed before the election. We are having a big expansion in this sphere, and I think that the growth in the technical colleges, stimulated by the noble Lord, Lord Eccles, in his White Papers of 1956 and 1961, has been one of the most important elements of our educational progress since the war.

In the Robbins context, we naturally think mostly of the 25 regional technical colleges, but I think that one should not forget that a number of the 160 area colleges do a good deal of high level work as well. For example, the Constantine College, in Middlesbrough, makes a real contribution to full time higher education.

At this point, we are passing into what one might call the non-autonomous sector, the sector of higher education at present within the orbit of local education authorities. For my part I believe —and I know that my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for St. Marylebone would agree with me—that there is a continuing place for the non-autonomous sector within our national system of higher education.

This is an issue of very considerable importance because, as the House must be aware, there is a growing pressure on sixth formers to seek a university degree and nothing else as a recognition of both social and educational status, and there is a tendency for a number of professional bodies—I shall not particularise, but we know this is true—to cast their qualifications for entry in terms exclusively of a university degree. I have considerable doubts about this.

It seems to me that there are real advantages in a system in which there are two routes to the higher levels of a considerable number of professions, and I have considerable sympathy with what the Association of Teachers and Technical Institutions has written about this. At present, in many cases there are two routes; a university degree, followed by a period of professional training, or, alternatively, a course of professional study and training councils closely integrated to the requirements of the particular profession in question. Having two routes is very often a good thing.

I am thinking, as we should all think, in terms of the students themselves. By 1980, we are likely to have about 350,000 students in full time higher education who will be the first generation in their families to go on to full-time higher education of some kind. I believe that that means that they will want high qualifications and good courses. Most of them will not want to engage in academic pursuits. They will want to be trained, as well as possible, for good jobs in administration, industry, commerce, art, maybe including industrial art, or the professions. This is where the non-autonomous technical colleges have a highly important part to play.

These colleges have always been closely associated with the world of work. They are more likely than are autonomous institutions to adapt in a responsible way to the new demands of what we expect to be a rapidly changing society. In saying this, I do not mean to devalue the importance of research, the enlargement of knowledge, or high academic standards. All these things are of high importance, and they are all to be found in regional colleges. I can think of a number of regional colleges where much valuable research is going on. But I question whether anything like all the students in higher education want to be within the orbit of institutions whose values are primarily academic.

In those circumstances, what can we do? First, we can recognise that the major technical colleges have their own distinctive role to play in our system of higher education. In this context, I was glad to read the report of a speech made by the right hon. Gentleman recently to the Association of Principals of Technical Institutions. Referring to these colleges, he said: I am certain that it would not be in the national interest or in the interests of the colleges themselves if they were to set out to duplicate the provision in the universities. Instead of imitating the universities, they must serve educational and social purposes which the universities cannot meet or meet as effectively. Then, as reported in the third person: In practice this meant, he thought, that at the advanced level the colleges should accept the primary responsibility for three important groups of student—those of degree standard who were qualified to enter universities but were better suited by the more vocational type of education traditionally offered in further education; those who needed courses of higher education of a less rigorous academic standard than the first group, and to whom the country must look for well-qualified men and women so badly needed in the all-important intermediate ranks of industry and commerce; and the tens of thousands of part-time students whose talents would otherwise he frustrated or wasted. He went on to say: This rather than development in parallel with the universities is the logic of the Robbins recommendation that further education should continue and expand as a separate sector of higher education and indeed the logic of the establishment of a separate degree system under the Council for National Academic Awards. I fully endorse those words, as would my hon. Friends. They lead to my second suggestion that we should give the highest possible standing to the Council for National Academic Awards.

I would like to put two other suggestions to the right hon. Gentleman. First, we ought to consider the need for a regional organisation of non-autonomous higher education. That is a matter to which my hon. Friends think that we should give increasing attention. And here and now—because this would not be difficult—surely we could bring about by legislation statutory governing bodies for regional and area colleges, and colleges of education. At the moment, these governing, bodies, which are not provided for by statute, have to be, in law, subcommittees of education committees, whereas they should come under the umbrella of the further education subcommittees.

I should like to discuss this point with the Minister at some time. It is something that we could bring in without too much difficulty, possibly by way of a Private Member's Bill. If the proposal commended itself to the Government and to the House this would seem not to be a difficult or elaborate reform, and it would give a good deal of satisfaction.

It is against this background that we ought to consider what are sometimes called university take-over bids. There has been a suggestion that Warwick University should take over Lanchester College; that the University of Sussex should get within its orbit all the full-time higher education in the Brighton area; that there should be a link between Chelsea College and Hatfield, after Chelsea has moved to Hertfordshire. There has also been a bid to come together in the case of the Sir John Cass College and Northampton College. This is a very difficult issue.

I have considerable sympathy with the idea of experiment with new types of hybrid higher education institutions. A particularly strong case can be put forward in respect of some individual cases. We recognise that the Sir John Cass-Northampton case is a special one, and there is also, certainly, something to be said for the Warwick University-Lanchester College case, where each institution may not be able to exist independently without some wasteful duplication of provision. Again, there are often considerations of location and of history. There is a very strong case, on purely geographical and historical grounds, for a continuing link between the Birmingham College of Advanced Technology and the College of Commerce.

And then there is this rather awkward question. Can the Government, in the last analysis, prevent universities conferring degrees on institutions within the C.N.A.A. sector? All these are real points—and yet I very much hope that the right hon. Gentleman will be able to resist what one might call a stampede in this direction. I hope that he will continue strongly to resist the proposition that only a university degree confers educational and social status. I have brought this matter into the open, because I hoped that it would be best to do so. These matters are being discussed. Many of the suggestions have some merit in themselves, but I am sure that in this question the great thing for us to ensure as a House is that there should not be a stampede in the direction of suggesting that only a university degree can confer educational and social status. That would be wrong.

Lastly, I turn to the question of colleges of education. I want to say something about numbers, and about the economic aspect of the question. Many people were a little surprised that the right hon. Gentleman should have made his announcement on numbers just before the National Advisory Council was due to report. How soon shall we have that report before us? Will the Minister make a statement in the light of its recommendation? The party opposite took a fairly strong line on teacher supply at the last election. It was the impression of many people who read its manifesto that class sizes could be brought down to a maxima of 30 all round, if not in this Parliament at any rate pretty soon in a future Parliament. The announcement that the right hon. Gentleman has made amounts only to aiming at class sizes of not more than 40 in 10 years from now.

Just as our projections of wastage in the past were optimistic, I believe that it is possible that they are now too pessimistic, and that perhaps one more heave in training college expansion, together with some other measures, could bring about reasonable class sizes by the later 1970s. In terms of educational importance this remains the most important issue of the lot. The greatest inequality in our education system today still lies between those who start with class sizes of 40 or more and those who start with class sizes of 20.

As for the statement made last autumn by the present Foreign Secretary, we all welcomed his decision regarding colleges of education and also his statement that wider opportunities should be provided for suitable training college students to obtain a degree, together with a professional teaching qualification, by means of a four-year course. I am also sure that his decision was right not to detach teacher training from the local education authorities, even though that decision was bound to be disappointing to the teaching profession and to the training colleges themselves, besides institutes of education and the Robbins Committee.

In view of the rather strong letter which Lord Robbins wrote to The Times, I should like to say that I think that such a detachment was quite out of the question, in the middle of a large expansion of colleges and at a time when the problems of teacher supply clearly require the closest contact between the training system and those responsible for staffing the schools.

It may also be that some people are a little too pessimistic about the prospects for the colleges under the local authorities. Paragraph 346 of the Robbins Report shows that the colleges have made good progress since the McNair Report.

On administration of the colleges, the Foreign Secretary said that the Government: "… intend to secure that the present arrangements for the internal government of the colleges are reviewed forthwith by all those concerned in the light of the Robbins' Committee's recommendations."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 11th December, 1964; Vol. 703, c. 1973.] I would ask the right hon. Gentleman: how is this review going? Has it now got off the ground, because there have been rumours that the simple-seeming words, "All those concerned" have caused a certain amount of trouble. Is the right hon. Gentleman hopeful of resolving this difficulty?

On the academic side, I must say that I think the decision whether or not all degrees should be university degrees, in this sector, is much harder to decide in the context of teacher training than in the context of technical colleges. On the one side, it is true that, since the McNair Report 20 years ago, the training colleges have forged firm links with the universities. There has been participation by faculty members on boards of studies and the universities have been responsible for examining for what was the two-year course and is now the three-year course. I fully accept that there is scope for a considerable academic element in many training college courses. To take one case, obviously there is some scope for classical culture in a course for any teacher of physical education.

We all want to see standards raised in colleges of education and this applies to courses for primary teachers no less than for secondary teachers. There are boys and girls with very high I.Q.s in primary schools, and there are what were rather well described to me as "darts of cognitive thought" from many boys and girls in primary schools. I should be the last to play down the importance of high standards of training for primary teachers.

But let us also remember that the Newsom Committee thought that college trained teachers had proved themselves better than graduates at meeting the need of secondary moderns. Surely, teacher training must be linked to the real world within which children live, rather than to academic studies as such. In other words, teacher training must be not just about learning, but about children. If all teachers are to be trained within the orbit of the universities, could this produce the full range of the teachers which we shall require?

We surely need to broaden the base of our supply of teachers and not to rule out the possibility of a technical college within the orbit of the Council for National Academic awards, offering a course leading to a B.Ed. I am not yet convinced, even as a long-term objective, of the desirability of aiming at a university degree for all teachers. In any case, I would say that compulsory training for all graduates ought to have considerable priority, in time, over the objective of degrees of any sort for all teachers.

I have spoken about the whole field of higher education without speaking about cost. But we must realise, as a House, the need to secure the best value for money, to look at such things as the cost of residence and to recognise the dangers of continually adding recurrent costs to education, which will only have, in any community and under any Government, the effect of capital expansion being less than it might otherwise have been. Is the right hon. Gentleman keeping to the present figure of, in effect, an increase of 6 per cent. in a year in real terms for education as a whole? As I see it, that will mean a proportion for education of just over 6 per cent. of the gross national product in 1970 devoted to the education service.

Let us always remember and remind other people that education is investment as well as consumption. It is not just consumption, using up national resources; it is sowing the seeds of a higher national income later on. This applies to part-time further education as well as to full-time higher education. It is important to remember that we shall have the full-time equivalent of half a million young people in our technical colleges in two years, and possibly a more rapid growth still, as day release responds to the Industrial Training Act, which I think is a very important Measure.

I think that we are justified, as a community, in giving high priority to the education service, for three reasons: First, education is highly significant to an industrial country like our own, at a time of rapid technological change; secondly, it is right, for its own sake, to develop the potential talents and abilities of young people; thirdly, and not least, young people are themselves determined to achieve qualifications as a means to securing for themselves fuller and more satisfying lives.

It is against these considerations that we as a House ought to look, and regularly look, at the progress of higher education.

4.46 p.m.

The Secretary of State for Education and Science (Mr. Anthony Crosland)

I should like to start by saying how obliged I am to the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Handsworth (Sir E. Boyle) for his kind remarks, and how glad we are to see him back in the educational field also. I think, without any disrespect to any of his colleagues, that he knows more about this subject than anyone else on the benches opposite, and, indeed as much as anyone in the House. I hope that he remains a Shadow Minister of Education for a very long time.

Listening to his speech, I found it hard to disagree with what he was saying. This was partly because he was in a rather more expansive frame of mind than he was almost exactly three years ago to this day, on 9th April, 1962, when he took part, as Financial Secretary to the Treasury, in a most notorious debate on the universities. This was at the beginning of the pay pause and in the middle of a balance of payments crisis, when the Conservatives were taking things out, to some extent, on education. The Conservative Government had just rejected the advice of the U.G.C. on the rate of university expansion and the debate very largely revolved—this is interesting in retrospect —around the question of how many university places there could be or should be in 1966–67. The then Chief Secretary to the Treasury, the right hon. Member for Hampstead (Mr. Brooke) took part. His speech so disgusted—or so it appeared to us on the Opposition benches—Lord Eccles, who was then Minister of Education, that he walked out halfway through with an expression of fastidious distaste on his face. The right hon. Member for Birmingham, Handsworth also spoke, as I say, as Financial Secretary. He said that 150,000 places for 1966–67 was the absolute maximum which we could possibly achieve. He said: In my view his represents the fastest practicable rate of university expansion, and no one conversant with our universities has ever suggested that they could be expanded at a faster rate".—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 5th April, 1962; Vol. 657, c. 772.] That is, 150,000 for 1966–67. Mr. Gaitskell, who led for the Opposition, suggested, on the contrary, that the universities could achieve 180,000, for which he was derided in a number of speeches from the other side of the House. It is interesting that the actual figure will be over 185,000, which suggests that nobody opposite was conversant with the actual position. Since then, the right hon. Member has become an ardent expansionist which I am delighted about. No doubt he has been rebuked by the Leader of the Opposition and the right hon. Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg) for his timid, reactionary and illiberal views on education. So today we see him in a very expansionist frame of mind.

The right hon. Gentleman started off with one or two general points, before coming down to particulars. He said that he would welcome a continuous review of higher education and its pattern, "Robbins in permanent session", in a phrase which, I believe, he has used in the past. I agree with this. This is partly a matter of looking at the figures of qualified school leavers which we have in the Department, and the figures in terms of national manpower needs, on which, I hope, we shall get some help from the Willis Jackson Committee and the five year plan. It is also partly a matter of major policy and on that it seems highly desirable that the House of Commons should hold periodic debates so that we can take sometimes, I hope, a collective view on the size and pattern of higher education in the future.

In this connection the right hon. Gentleman talked of the total provision and referred to the fact that in his view the Robbins targets were already out of date. He referred to the fact that the number of those with minimum qualifications already exceeds the figures given in the Robbins Report. I am very conscious of this, just as I am of the encouraging growth in the size and quality of our sixth forms. I cannot, for reasons which I will explain later, give a firm indication of our policy on this subject at the moment, but I can assure him that I view the problem from the standpoint of a committed expansionist as I think he does.

I should like to follow the example of the right hon. Gentleman and go through the different component parts of higher education one by one. I do not want to be too long because I believe we are to have four Front Bench speakers and I do not want any back bench speakers to be crowded out. First, then, the universities. Here I think we must start by paying a tribute to the universities for their magnificent response to the Robbins Report. One sometimes forgets now that when Lord Robbins was preparing his Report there were still voices—remarkably influential voices—expressing doubt whether major expansion was practicable. Other voices doubted whether if it were practicable, it was desirable. One forgets how strong the "more means worse" school was at that time, ranging from A. L. Rowse to Kingsley Amis. The enthusiasm of the universities to go forward with expansion took many people by surprise. Now this enthusiasm is being translated into practice.

The building programme is moving in accordance with the timetable of starts. The returns for last October show an 11 per cent. increase over the entries for the year before. Our target for 1967–68 is 197,000 students and we are on target. One thing I wish to stress in this connection is the enormous capital programme that this target requires, if it is to be met. I think that people do not always realise the scale of the investment programme involved. By the end of this current financial year something like £150 million worth of building work will be going on in the universities. Out of every £50 we spend in Britain on building production of all kinds—schools, hospitals, roads, housing and industry—about £1 is spent by the universities. One brick in every 50 at the moment is likely to go into a university building. And this is not the end. If we add to that the equipment, furnishings and professional services required, we find that the total capital expenditure rate on work in progress in the universities is around £230 million, which is a really vast sum.

I wish to emphasise one thing and this takes up a point mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman. Even the expenditure of public money on this vast scale will meet the universities growing needs over the next few years only if we get the maximum value for every £ spent; only if the universities exploit every possible economy of large-scale planning and large-scale construction, with standardisation, and only if they make full and extensive use of every piece of available accommodation. We do not want to be put in the position of urging the teacher training colleges, for example, to over-utilise their plant while the universities under-utilise theirs. The right hon. Gentleman mentioned one or two particular points about universities. I shall answer some of them and others will be answered by my hon. Friend.

The Research Councils—yes, I remain responsible for these. On new universities I was pleased that the right hon. Gentleman endorsed the view which we have taken that for the present there should not be any new universities. Under present plans the number of universities will very soon be—the right hon. Gentleman said 41, my figure is 44—anyway, over 40 and it is clear we can get rapid expansion more quickly and more cheaply by expanding existing universities than by building completely new ones. I agree with what he said about older civic universities and the rapid expansion that they had been achieving. I will not go over the arguments; the right hon. Gentleman did so very lucidly.

One argument he did not mentioned was that there are fears among many people who would like more new univer- sities that if we do not have them we shall get to the American position of vast universities in this country. When we look at the figures we find that these fears are completely groundless. By international standards, British universities are remarkably small. There is one giant—London—with over 24,000 students but apart from that there are only three with over 9,000, Cambridge and Oxford, and Wales, which is spread over the Principality anyway. The largest group in size is between 2,000 and 3,000. If we take the 1973–74 figure of 218,000 places we can fit those figures into the number of universities we already have and still get an average university size of only 5,000 which, of course, is very much smaller than many of the most famous universities in other countries. So the idea that because of our decision we shall have a succession of Berkeleys—campuses with riots about four-letter words—as a consequence of this theory, is totally and completely groundless.

Next the right hon. Gentleman referred to the decision about SISTERS and he approved, I am happy to say, the conclusion which we had come to. He described it with typical ingenuity as "priority without sorority"—a nice phrase. At any rate, the right hon. Gentleman approved our decision, that instead of going for the nomenclature of SISTERS we should pick out three leading institutions, the Imperial College, Manchester College of Science and Technology and the University of Strathclyde for selective development.

In this connection the right hon. Gentleman also raised the question of a new technological university institute in the North-East to which I referred in the statement I made in February, and perhaps I can say a word about this. I want to stress that what the Government are examining here is not the promotion to university status of one or other of the major technical colleges in the region, but the creation of a new and, I hope, novel foundation. As a nation we produce scientists second to none, but I am less confident of our capacity to apply the discoveries of the scientists to the needs of the economy and to work them out in terms of productive technology in industry. We are all asking ourselves, can we find a successful way of harnessing the brains and resources of the world of learning and industry to bring into existence, by a close collaborative effort, the educational extension which in the words of the Robbins Report could experiment boldly, unfettered by existing affiliations either with universities or with further education". As a Government we shall be planning during the next few months the next stages in the economic, social and educational advance that we have initiated. We shall have to weigh such a project against many other important enterprises. Since the cost of building and running a really high quality institution is likely to be considerable, we shall naturally be influenced by the size of any contribution that industry has it in mind to make. It is too early to say where in the North-East such an institution might be located. That is a question on which I should want to have the advice of the University Grants Committee.

The next point mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman in connection with universities was the shortage of applicants for science and technology places. This, as hon. Members know, has been causing a good deal of discussion in the newspapers in the last few months. I think there is some case for concern, but I also think we should get the matter into perspective. First, the fact that the universities admitted 1,500 fewer students in science and technology does not mean that there is a decline in the number of university entrants in these fields. The number of entrants in pure and applied science last October was 15,827. That was an increase of 7.1 per cent. over the previous year and 16.9 per cent. over 1961.

The fact is that the universities are making extra places available more rapidly than the supply of suitable candidates is coming forward. In some ways this is, of course, a tribute to the universities. Then again—the famour 1,500 empty places, so-called—does not mean that the number of science specialists among those who may expect to be considered for university entrance is decreasing. It is true that the percentage of the A level passes which were in science and mathematics did fall from 55 per cent. in 1959 to 51 per cent. in 1963. But—and this is much more important in the context of university places—of all those with two or more A level passes, the number in science and mathematics seems to have been fairly constant at some 45 per cent. That, of course, is a percentage of a continuously rising total. The picture is, therefore, perhaps not quite so black as it seems. Nevertheless, we clearly must know a great deal more about this matter and the Council for Scientific Policy has invited one of its members, Professor Dainton, Professor of Chemistry at Leeds University, to undertake an inquiry into the supply of candidates for the universities in science and technology.

One of the first tasks will be to analyse the statistical evidence bearing on the choice of course in science and technology by eligible candidates. I am putting the services of my Department at the disposal of Professor Dainton, although inevitably an inquiry of this magnitude must take some considerable time to carry out. Meanwhile, I hope I can reassure hon. Members that many things are being done to improve the situation in the schools. For example, we are now taking serious steps to attract more recruits from both universities and training colleges into science teaching. We are also giving special priority to the needs of science within the school building programme.

My Department has itself sponsored research projects in the teaching of science and mathematics and we are co-operating with that great enterprise, the Nuffield Foundation, which has decided to devote £½ million to this. Also, the Schools Council has begun a major study of 6th form curricula and examinations and recently held its first conference at Nottingham University for the purpose of bringing together industrialists, educationists and others to discuss the 6th form teaching of science. So a great deal is going on to prevent the muliplier effects to which the right hon. Gentleman referred.

Like the right hon. Gentleman, I will say a brief word about colleges of advanced technology. As he said, this debate takes place as these colleges stand on the threshold of university status. From 1st April they come under the aegis of the university grants system. I want to make it clear, as the right hon. Gentleman did, that this change of status should not, in our view, mean any dilution of the technological status of these institutions.

The Robbins Committee, when recommending that they should achieve university status, stressed this and added, as the right hon. Gentleman mentioned, that it would be appropriate for it to be recognised in their titles and charters. This should not, of course, inhibit them from developing work in pure science as well as social studies, but technology and the application of science to economic needs should remain the core of their work. It is in this spirit that the Government, like the former Government, have welcomed the development of the colleges. I was glad to note that the first of the new draft charters to be submitted is for one of them to be called the Loughborough University of Technology.

One of the most important characteristics of the C.A.T.s has been their development of sandwich courses involving alternate periods in college and industry with the whole course planned as a single scheme of study. There have been suggestions that when the C.A.T.s become universities they will scrap or modify these courses. I, like the right hon. Gentleman and the University Grants Committee, hope and intend that they will do no such thing. We attach the greatest importance to sandwich courses and we would like to see them extended wherever appropriate, including some even in the older universities.

I am glad to say that discussions with the C.A.T.s have shown that they are enthusiastic about expanding and developing these courses. In doing so they will get the utmost encouragement from the Government. We do not want the C.A.T.s to become pale reflections of nineteenth century Oxford and Cambridge or apologising for themselves because they are not precisely like the older universities.

Mr. Peter Walker (Worcester)

Since the right hon. Gentleman referred to the old universities, would he tell us whether he has had talks with the older universities on this issue?

Mr. Crosland

As the hon. Gentleman knows, under the constitutional arrangements we are not directly responsible for the universities. Although we talk informally with all people in the university world, we have no formal link with the universities, except through the University Grants Committee and, as I said, the members of that Committee take very much the same view as I am expressing. So I emphasise that what we want the C.A.T.s to do is to exploit the unique opportunities which they have as a new type of academic institution. We want to give them the prestige not of older institutions but that which is due to pioneering innovators.

I turn to the question of technical colleges and here I agree largely with what the right hon. Gentleman said. We are planning for a major contribution from regional and other senior colleges within the further education system. A lot of people—and I would plead guilty to this before I came to this Department —did not realise how important this system already is, both in terms of volume and quality. If we include part-time students, there were in 1963–64 nearly 130,000 people taking courses of higher education in these colleges in England and Wales—more, in fact, than in the universities. This was an increase of well over 50 per cent. on the 1958 figures. About 33,000 of the total were pursuing full-time or sandwich courses and nearly 12,000 were taking courses leading to degrees or diplomas in technology.

It is evidence of the high academic standards which are attained that in a number of cases universities have been looking at these colleges with covetous eyes. I would not like to express a definite view on any of the individual cases the right hon. Gentleman mentioned, but I would like to make it clear that we certainly want to resist any stampede, to use his phrase, on the part of the colleges in the way he described.

I appreciate that since the publication of the Robbins Report there has been some uncertainty about the future rôle of the colleges as institutions of higher education. Does it lie in imitating the universities or in assimilaton by them? Or should the colleges develop as institutions in their own right, alongside the universities, and not as their competitors or satellites?

I hope that my statement of 24th February about new universities will have gone a long way to resolving these doubts. I hope that it will encourage the colleges to improve their status, not by trying to merge themselves with universities but by developing to the full their own tradition as professional and vocational institutions of really high quality.

I hope shortly to be initiating discussions about the future pattern of advanced work in the further education system. This is a matter of prime importance and urgency and—while I cannot today anticipate the details of the discussions—I would like to make it quite clear that their purpose will be to ensure that the colleges make their maximum contribution to the higher education needs of the country in their own distinctive way.

As I see it—and as the right hon. Gentleman no doubt agrees—they must build upon their own traditions, of which they have every reason to be proud. They should not set out to duplicate the provision in the uinversities. I do not mean by this that they should seek to be different from the universities for the sake of being different but that they should pursue their own standards of excellence within the spheres for which they are best suited. In this connection, I endorse the right hon. Gentleman's praise for the recent report on this subject by the A.T.T.I., which was an extremely thoughtful and timely contribution to discussion on the subject.

One of the chief functions of the colleges is to provide for students who are attracted by the more vocational tradition of the technical colleges. As the right hon. Gentleman said, in catering for this vitally important group of students—vitally important for the future of the country—a major part will be played by the Council for National Academic Awards. The establishment of this Council will prove to have been a revolutionary step forward with implications going far beyond the further education system.

It will add greatly to the variety of opportunities open to school leavers and other students. I am glad that the Council has already made it clear that it will by sympathetic to proposals for degree courses which break new ground and that it means to encourage the further development of sandwich courses, not only in the technologies but in other spheres, such as business studies.

I hope, too, that with the help of the Council the colleges will be able to de- velop a range of courses suitable for the growing number of students with a background in arts and social studies for whom they will have to provide. There is great scope for imaginatively devised courses which depart from the traditional patterns without any sacrifice of quality.

Students at the level I have been describing are not the only people for whom the colleges will be responsible. There are other groups as well, but since I mentioned them in my speech, from which the right hon. Gentleman quoted I will not go into such detail as I had intended to. I will merely try to get that passage transferred in HANSARD from the right hon. Gentleman's speech to mine, thus saving work all round. On the general point of the colleges, I want to make it clear that we are dealing with a sector in which there is a very large reservoir of talent, which the country cannot afford to waste.

I turn to numbers. As the right hon Gentleman has said, in my statement of 24th February I said that our object was to provide for at least 50,000 full-time and sandwich advanced students in the technical colleges by 1973–74. I want to emphasise those words "at least" because I take the point that the right hon. Gentleman has in mind, which is that probably even on existing programmes we shall get beyond that number. I would also emphasise the words "at least" because we cannot plan full-time provision with the same precision as with universities and colleges of education. Facilities in the colleges are interchangeable to a large extent, and this elasticity is of great value in enabling the actual provision to be adjusted to changes in need.

I think that I have said enough to show that, in our view, the opportunities for these colleges are important and exciting. I think that there is a great future for them as higher educational institutions equipped to serve the industrial, professional and business worlds.

I want to say something about teacher supply. The right hon. Gentleman asked me about the report of the National Advisory Council. The report was approved by the Council on 2nd March, but it has not yet been formally submitted to me. I understand that the Council was not unanimous in its views, and that dissenting opinions are also to be conveyed to me. I hope to receive all the relevant documents before Easter but, until I have received them and studied them, I do not think that I should say anything further at this stage.

On the main question of teacher supply, the present position is clearly very disturbing, and I should like to give the basic figures that confront us. There are at present about 290,000 teachers in the primary and secondary schools. This is about 55,000 fewer than we need to reduce class sizes to 40 in primary schools and 30 in secondary schools. At present, about one primary class in seven is over 40 in size, and two secondary school classes in five are over 30 in size. This was the situation that we inherited.

Looking ahead, over the next ten years the school population will rise by about 2½ million—from about 7 million now to about 9½ million in 1976. Of this rise, about 350,000 will be due to the raising of the school leaving age in 1970–71, and most of the rest will reflect the rapid rise in the birthrate since 1956.

To meet this enormous rise in school population, without allowing for any improvement in class sizes, we should need 100,000 more teachers in 1976. If, in addition, we were to eliminate the oversize classes—the conventional oversize in relation to 40 and 30 pupils—we would need a further 70,000 teachers in 1976. That is a total of 460,000, as compared with the 290,000 we have today. If we accept—as, surely, we must—the eventual aim of 30 in primary classes, not 40, we should need a further large number of teachers on top of that. This is a problem of formidable dimensions, to put it mildly. I regard it as by far the greatest problem facing my Department.

How do we meet it? The prime source of teacher supply is the college of education—and here I would say that my hon. Friend the Minister of State will later say something about administration and degrees in connection with the colleges. This source of supply—the colleges of education—has been expanding fast. The student population of the colleges has grown from 28,000 in 1957–58 to over 61,000 in the current year. Student intake has increased from 13,000 to 24,000 in the same period. Under a decision taken by the previous Government two years ago, the student population of the colleges was due to rise to about 80,000 in 1970–71, implying a student intake of some 27,500. Under that programme, we could expect to have about 433,000 teachers in post in 1976.

This would, however, leave us nearly 30,000 teachers short of the number required to eliminate oversized classes ten years from now—I am talking of 1976. Under that programme we should only have eliminated oversize classes by 1981—

Sir E. Boyle

I am sorry to interrupt the right hon. Gentleman, but the projection he is giving rather assumes that the former Government, having gone up to a minimum of 80,000 by 1970, had taken a decision to stop there. In fact, we never had any doubt that a further target would have to be announced for 1973–74 and that this was implied in our acceptance of the overall Robbins target for that year. The principal reason why a figure had not already been announced was that a final decision was not urgent, and that we knew that the N.A.C. was soon due to report.

Mr. Crosland

I am obliged to the right hon. Gentleman but, not being a mind reader, I was not aware of what was in the mind of the previous Government. All that we on this side can go on is what that Government stated and not what, as it were, they dreamed of. On that basis, we should not have got down to classes of 40 and 30 until 1981, and the objective of 30 for primary school classes would have had to wait until 1988. By then I shall be nearly 70. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of children would have spent their school lives in oversized classes.

We decided that this was not good enough, and decided that we should live up to the dreams rather than the statements of the previous Government. We therefore announced on 24th February that the number of teacher training places in England and Wales would be expanded to reach some 110,000 by 1973–74, out of 122,000 places for the whole of Britain. This programme, as such, will produce no improvement until the 'seventies, but by 1976 it should reduce the teacher deficit to 13,000, and by 1978 would eliminate oversized classes altogether. And it would bring forward the date of class sizes of 30 in primary schools to 1983; that is to say, it would advance it by five years, compared with the previous Government's announced proposals.

I still do not regard that as nearly good enough. For one thing, it does nothing in itself to improve the situation in the next few years. I do not want to say anything more on this today, as I hope to make an announcement of further short-term measures in the next few weeks. But it is also not good enough in the long term. On this time-table, we would still have to wait until the 'eighties before approaching our goal of decent-sized classes for all children. I cannot today announce our long-term programme for dealing with this problem. As hon. Members know, the Government are now engaged in the exercise of a five-year plan and long-term review of Government expenditure, and until these are complete I cannot go beyond the long-term policies already announced.

Of course, what we can afford in five, ten or fifteen years' time will depend fundamentally on the rate of our economic growth. One of the reasons why we are now hampered and constricted in this field as in other fields has been the slow rate of growth we have had in the last ten or fifteen years. At least I agree very strongly with the right hon. Gentleman on one point, which is that we cannot look on education as simply being a form of consumer goods like other consumer goods. It has an overwhelming element of investment. It is an investment in higher exports and efficiency and economic growth but, more than that, it is an investment in the quality of our civilisation—and I would emphasise this, it is an investment in social equality.

The more children we have in higher education the more efficient our society will be, the more civilised our society will be and the more democratic our society will be. For all these three reasons, any influence I have will be used in the direction of always getting more money for education.

5.19 p.m.

Miss Harvie Anderson (Renfrew, East)

I join the Secretary of State and my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Handsworth (Sir E. Boyle) in welcoming the opportunity we have of debating this subject today. I do so particularly because there are, perhaps, too few opportunities for mentioning university education and devoting some thought to the remarkable expansion in this field of education which is taking place at present.

When the Secretary of State mentioned the development of Loughborough and its charter, I could not help reflecting that the last time I heard this project discussed was when I went to sup with the Director of Education in Kuwait, whose stepson was a student at Loughborough. It was a very great pleasure and a tribute to the educational facilities available in this country to hear a tribute paid to Loughborough by the Director of Education in Kuwait, who himself has such a good influence in that Welfare State of a new vintage even compared with our own.

One reason why we should discuss university education is that many of us are very fully aware of the ever-increasing need for financial assistance to be given by the nation as a whole, as opposed to the way in which universities were formerly financed under their own endowments. This brings me to my particular point on the four ancient Scottish universities. I do not want to introduce a peculiarly Scottish note into the debate, but I make no apology for referring to the Scottish universities, because there are, in my view rightly, so many English, Commonwealth and foreign students at those universities. I think it is right to say that, whereas when the universities were founded they were all institutions of special endowment, they are now equal partners in the share-out of what is on offer from the central Government.

As the Secretary of State for Scotland is well aware, the Acts which govern the Scottish universities are those of 1858 and 1889, with some minor adjustments and amendments made in 1868, 1922 and 1932. We are all agreed that there is a special case for a certain revision of these Acts. We would also all agree it is perhaps unreasonable to expect any university today to conduct its affairs on lines laid down between 75 and 100 years ago. Although the present constitution of these universities was adequate and acceptable in the days when the professorial staff had full representation on the governing bodies, the expansion of the universities, to which my right hon. Friend paid tribute and in which the Scottish universities have taken a considerable share of the increase, has meant that the staff representation is inadequate for present-day need.

The Robbins Report recommended that the Acts should be repealed and a new Act substituted. The Secretary of State for Scotland has perhaps not yet decided that this is necessary. Such recommendations as have been submitted to him may not necessarily contain the full opinion of those whom it would be appropriate to consult at this time. I raise the matter today because it is right that the House should understand that these four Scottish universities, with all their ancient history, are in a rather different position from any other university which is under consideration. They are, of course, making a very great contribution to the present pattern of university expansion.

Although the Robbins recommendation for repeal has had support in certain quarters, I hope that great consideration will be biven by both Secretaries of State to the point of view to which I subscribe, namely, that the widest opinion should be taken before any amendments to the existing Acts are made and that it should not necessarily be accepted that the right recommendations are those made by the rather more limited body of people entitled to make such representations at present. I do not wish to pursue the matter further than that at this stage.

Then there is a point on syllabus. This probably extends beyond the question which arises in the Scottish universities, because there is a general feeling that syllabuses in most universities could be given what has been recently termed "a new look". This is perhaps particularly true of the Scottish universities. Many people take the view that the ordinary degree course in Scottish universities is an insufficiently exacting course to provide the discipline now accepted as the discipline of learning required from a university course. I would hope that there could be some recognition of the fact that a good general education demands a very serious study of several related subjects, rather than it being accepted that a nodding acquaintance with a variety of subjects is sufficient.

My next point concerns the numbers qualifying in science subjects. The Secretary of State said that this position was not quite so alarming as it at first seemed. If he will look at the subject from another angle, he will find cause for great alarm. I have referred to this matter before and I hope that the House will indulge me by allowing me to refer to it again. I shall continue to refer to it until the position improves. Table 31 of Appendix Two (B) of the Robbins Report gives the breakdown between the number of men and women qualified in science subjects. This is at the entry stage of A-levels.

My contention is that we do not encourage girls at the secondary school stage—I believe that it should start in the primary school—to have a sufficient interest in science subjects. I am not at the moment including mathematics, although certain tables in the Robbins Report include mathematics in the science subjects. There is a dramatic difference between the number of girls who qualify in science subjects and the number of boys who do so. Table 31 shows that very nearly twice as many men as women are qualified in science subjects at A-level.

This is not necessarily because women are particularly stupid in science subjects. I have no doubt that some of us are. I do not pretend to qualify in this subject. Indeed, I do not even pretend to be able to add two and two together. But there is a general lack of encouragement here, and this lack of encouragement is very pronounced at the school stage. If there is no encouragement at the school stage, a pupil is hardly likely to be able to take up these subjects. An effort should be made at least to change the balance by increasing the number of girls interested in these subjects. I hope that it will be proved possible, not only for this to be done in secondary schools, but also for us to promote a very early interest in science which in my admittedly limited experience is not done at present.

I noted that the right hon. Gentleman said that the Professor of Chemistry at Leeds University was going to look into the question of the fall in A-level passes in science. I make this point today in the hope that any such review will include special attention to the encouragement of girls to graduate through the schools to a level where they can successfully take an A level pass in science subjects. I am glad to have had the opportunity of raising these three points which have been represented to me.

5.31 p.m.

Mrs. Shirley Williams (Hitchin)

I should like to begin by referring to the remarks made by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State about the way in which the universities have responded to the expansion which they were asked to achieve, because although it is true that the universities have responded to this target, and indeed have passed the original target laid down, I am sure that my right hon. Friend is well aware of the strain which it is at present placing upon them and which in some places is very nearly intolerable.

I refer particularly to the special strains that arise from the policy set down when it was announced that there would be no further new universities for the next ten years. I am sure that most of us on this side of the House, and many hon. Members opposite as well, strongly applauded this decision. Nevertheless, we must recognise that some of the universities which will be expected to expand most are in the great cities. Indeed, the Robbins Report itself very much applauded the argument for universities in great cities. This means that the Secretary of State's Department must look closely at the schemes for urban renewal and replanning, because many of the universities in great urban areas are now running hard up against lack of land for their expansion.

The Robbins Report suggested that it was important that as far as possible joint courses of a general type should be developed and that we should move away from extreme specialisation at an early stage. Joint courses make sense in the university timetable if the various buildings concerned for the faculties are sufficiently close together to enable students to spend more time being taught than in travelling from one building to another. There is a very great danger in Birmingham and London and other major cities that certain types of general courses will become completely impossible because of the distance between buildings. I very much hope that in drawing up schemes for the Land Commission and in the work of the Ministry of Housing and Local Government the special needs of higher education, especially outside the cathedral cities will be very much borne in mind.

I hope that my right hon. Friend is aware of it, and that the Minister of State will be able to make some reference in reply to the fact that universities find it impossible to negotiate sufficiently quickly or to offer sufficient money to catch up with developments in centres of cities and around many areas where university expansion is now taking place. Sir Charles Morris, writing in the University Quarterly of December 1963 said: The unhappy history of past years and months have caused most universities to be seriously behindhand with their building programmes even for the old plans. He was, of course, writing at a time when a Conservative Government were in office. I am sure that my right hon. Friend will agree that, despite increases now made in financial provision to the universities, it is extremely difficult to catch up with the backlog of cuts in 1962 and 1963.

This is particularly relevant in view of the pressure of demand to which the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Hands-worth (Sir E. Boyle) and the Secretary of State have referred. At present I think that I am right in saying that about 4.6 per cent. of the age group in Britain go to university, but, according to the statistics of the Secretary of State's Department, the number of boys and girls who will qualify with passes of two A-levels or more for university entrance by 1973 will be approximately 13 per cent. of the age group. Although the right hon. Member for Handsworth referred to the need to prevent university degrees reaching a social status which was overwhelming, experience of other countries, especially the United States and the Soviet Union, strongly suggests that it would be difficult to resist this pressure.

The pressure of demand for university places will lead immediately to pressure of demand for university teachers. It is estimated that one-third of the higher honour graduates, those with Firsts and good Second-class degrees will be required simply to meet the need for university teachers in the 1970s. This means that approximately one in three of the better degrees will be absorbed in this one profession. This suggests that the number of people holding high honours degrees able to move to other professions, particularly school teaching, will be under great pressure. But, as the hon. Lady the Member for Renfrew, East (Miss Harvie Anderson) pointed out, already one of the major reasons why not enough of the places in science and technology in the universities and the C.A.T.s are taken up is due to the dearth of science teachers in schools, and the appalling dearth of them in girls' schools in particular. It is well-known to many hon. Members that science teachers at many even quite good girls' schools can be recruited only by being offered special posts of responsibility within a year or two of leaving training college. This creates resentment among teachers of other subjects who may have to wait years for the same sort of status and salary.

This brings me to the problem of teacher-training colleges and the expansion, to which my right hon. Friend's Department and the Government have rightly given priority. One special problem which I know is very much in my right hon. Friend's mind is the problem of wastage. However much we increase the number of people moving into teacher-training colleges, granted that we increase at the same time the number of university places, we cannot move very far from the problem of wastage of teachers, because, whatever statistics one likes to take, it is almost certain that the majority, though perhaps not so overwhelmingly as at present, of students in training colleges in the next ten years are likely to be women, and on the projected marriage rates many of them will leave the profession within five years, and most of those within three years, of entering it.

The Department could take some original steps in this direction. It is clear that some authorities make far less use than others of part-time teachers. I hope that the Department will consider at least the possibility of making sure that qualified part-time teachers are taken up earlier in the quota than they are at present. Use varies widely, with some authorities making good use and laying on refresher courses and so on, and others apparently incapable of even using fully qualified teachers on part-time work in their schools.

We could do far more, I suggest, with day training colleges for teachers and particularly for women with two A-levels who want to go back to teaching but cannot consider residential courses. It seems to me that many head teachers and teachers with posts of special responsibility would be prepared to consider giving lectures to day courses if they could be relieved of part of the burden of administrative work. This suggests that there is some room for saving this time by the employment of people with administrative training in drawing up timetables, working out how the courses dovetail with one another, and that type of work.

There is another aspect of this matter which I regard as important and which, I was pleased to see from a recent Answer by the Minister of State, is being further considered by the Department. I refer to nursery classes and the suggestion by my hon. Friend that consideration would be given to the starting of nursery classes where this would mean a net increase in the number of teachers in the school system. It is often thought abhorrent in the House and in the country to give any special form of priority to a particular group in the community, but I believe, and I think that many hon. Members share this view, that the crisis is now so severe that we ought to consider giving some form of priority to people willing to return to the schools if nursery classes exist for their children. This would, in effect, mean a better education for more children than if no such priority were given.

The right hon. Member for Hands-worth referred to what he called hybrid institutions. The extension of the idea of the hybrid institution is closely relevant to our efforts to attract more people into teaching. I should like to see us break down over the coming years the distinctions between university, teacher training college, C.A.T. and further education far more than we have yet done in this country. I should like it to be a commonplace for someone who passes through further education and finds in himself a hunger and thirst for education, to move on, even at a later stage, to university. I should like to see able teacher trainees move on, possibly for their last year, to university. These things will be possible only if universities approach their subjects rather more flexibly than they do today. Moreover, we should use our university accommodation not just for conferences and that kind of thing in the vacations but much more for refresher and further education courses for teachers and other people in education during the vacation times.

One thinks of hybrid institutions in another sense, too. Just as it is important to break down distinctions within and between the institutions of higher education, it is important also to break down what used to be described as the conflict between town and gown. There are two ways in which we can make advances in this respect. One is exemplified to a great extent by the new University of Essex which has gone a long way to plan itself in relationship to the town around it, to offer facilities which can be made available to the townspeople in the form of parkland, cultural facilities and so on. This sort of thing needs to be taken further. A university must stop seeming like something which belongs just to itself. It must become something very much open to us all, to the townspeople and the community round about. This can be done particularly in the new universities by recognising that their theatres and other cultural facilities are open to the town as well. Here again, I should like to see a close relationship between the Department and the Ministry of Housing and Local Government in the preparation of plans for these universities as they expand.

There is a particular form of hybrid institution of which we have far too little in the United Kingdom today. I refer to the possibility of work on joint development and research studies between industry and the technical universities, the sort of thing which is done today in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory of the California Institute of Technology and other places in the United States. Such arrangements are all too rare in this country.

If anything, it can be said that there is a deep suspicion of the academic who may, for instance, work as a part-time industrial consultation as well. In our present economic situation, this is a rather retrograde attitude, and I should like the Department to encourage joint academic and industrial appointments of the sort pioneered recently between Imperial Chemical Industries and Churchill College. Appointments of this kind should become far more commonplace, with people moving from industry to take short courses in the universities and then going back to their industrial work and teachers going from the universities and working for some time in the research laboratories of industry, so that there is a constant interchange.

What about the cost of all this? It is not a popular view, but I am inclined to think that we have a very expensive approach to higher education in Britain. We have a very high staff-student ratio, about one in eight. In France it is about one in 30. No one would recommend that we adopt the French system, which is in many ways chaotic, with a high rate of wastage, but we ought to consider whether the techniques now being considered and tried in the schools, often referred to under the heading of team teaching, are in some ways appropriate at university level as well. In other words, we should set for ourselves a more fluid teaching pattern, perhaps using very large lectures or even fairly large seminars, breaking away to some extent from the high staff-student ratio to which we have hitherto held.

I felt that the Robbins Report pitched its demands for student hostels to a level which is certainly desirable but which sets the priorities wrong in a situation of financial stringency. I am certain that many boys and girls would much rather be students living in a garret, to put it like that, than not be students because being students would mean living in a smart new university hostel which is not likely to be provided very soon.

My right hon. Friend spoke of education as being, for him, a good thing in itself, something going beyond its mere ecenomic value to us as a nation. I agree with him, and I concluded in this way. There is a real danger in this country of replacing our old social class system which is now gradually breaking down by a new system of class prejudice depending on academic standards. All of us are only too aware of this. The way to overcome it is to get rid of the rungs in the ladder of education itself, or rather, to make it not so much a ladder as a ramp—an area, as it were, in which further education, technological education, higher school education and university education blend into one another. This must be the main purpose of those of us on this side at least when we make our plans for higher education. Education is not something which should end. It should last throughout a lifetime. It is something which at this moment gives us, above all, an opportunity to remove distinctions instead of creating them.

5.47 p.m.

Mr. Charles Morrison (Devizes)

The Secretary of State, my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Handsworth (Sir E. Boyle) and the hon. Lady the Member for Hitchin (Mrs. Shirley Williams) have all drawn attention yet again to the everlasting problem of teacher supply. I agree with what the hon. Lady said about wastage and with some of the suggestions she made for overcoming it. Only a day or so ago, I received a letter from a teacher who had married and who was beginning to think that she wanted to come back into the profession. She was somewhat nervous of so doing because she thought that her teaching methods might be out of date, and she wondered what refresher courses might be available. Local authorities and the Department must do their utmost to ensure that there are always courses available for teachers who wish to come back and who wish to polish up their teaching methods to bring themselves up to date.

The speeches so far have dwelt mainly on the universities, but I wish to strike out in a slightly different direction. Paragraph 513 of the Robbins Report refers to the education of adults: We have hitherto concentrated on the education of young people. But higher education is not a once-for-all process. As the pace of discovery quickens it will become increasingly important for practitioners in many fields to take courses at intervals to bring them up to date in their subjects. I believe that the process of reeducation has not in the past received anything like enough attention, nor have those working at the senior levels of the professions or industries been encouraged—nor, for that matter, have they had the time—to attend courses in modern techniques and methods which would both refresh their own outlook and inspire them to make better use of the latest technological advances.

In the past this may have mattered little. Each successive generation was seized of the latest knowledge, so that there was a gradual evolution of thought and practice. But now the pace of change has become so great that it is of paramount importance for all, but particularly the leaders, to have some idea of the advances being made in their own parts of industry.

We are living now on the brink, even if we are not yet part, of an age of automation and each day that passes new discoveries are made, often of more far-reaching consequence than discoveries made in whole centuries of history. To what extent is this realised? Nothing like to the extent that it should be and there is undoubtedly an unwillingness to make use of, and for that matter a suspicion of, things that are new, and this instead results in a block to progress.

I want to quote a passage from one of the Reith lectures delivered by Sir Leon Bagrit on the age of automation. Sir Leon said: One might imagine that out of self interest, every manufacturer and every business man would rush to buy a computer or a computer control system as soon as it became available to him. Of course some do, but many do not. The strongest reason for this, I think is that the present generation of business leaders was educated in a period when automation was barely heard of, even in science-fiction, and automation compels them to re-think the whole structure of their industry and its processes. So, because the new power has not been realised, and because the coming of the computer age, in which the extension of man's ability to tackle and solve problems which previously took years to master has not been appreciated, much of the country's thinking is still tied down to that formed by the teachers of the 1930s, when the economic objectives and considerations were very different from those of today. This, I submit, is the problem we now face.

It is typical in all activities—engineering, architecture, indeed, in the whole multitude of professions and skills. Young men entering their professions for the first time, bursting to practise their newly gained knowledge and to try out the latest techniques, are frustrated by the fear, doubtless genuine in its original conception, of those who hold the senior posts of responsibility. For these people received their training in a period of recession and hardship, when money was extremely scarce and there was little thought of expansion or growth but rather only of economic survival.

This is the thinking that must be changed, but above all it must be changed in management—up till recently perhaps the most neglected of all subjects in Britain. Now at last it has at least been recognised that it is not enough to leave a manager to learn by experience, gained too often within the narrow limitations of one firm. It is realised that effective management training is essential at all levels and, so amongst other things, the recommendation by the Robbins Committee that two business schools should be set up was generally welcomed.

Of course, there has been already considerable progress in the last 15 years—so much so that, in 1963, there were 52 adult education centres and professional and specialist types of organisations offering between them no less than 237 courses of management training and education. Of course, that is progress and it sounds impressive but it has to be kept in perspective. There is an inadequacy of statistical data but it is thought that there are about 450,000 managers in industry today. It is estimated that less than 1 pet cent. have received any external management training.

As for the present, the only reliable statistics available relate to the number of students attending courses for the diploma in management studies. In 1963–64, the diploma was able to attract a total of 3,000, and an entry of only 564 for the first year, for the three-year course. But taking the figure of 450,000, and if it is assumed that each manager has a working life of 40 years, it means that 11,000 students a year should be given some form of initial management training.

This is looking at the problem as it faces us with regard to the education of future managers. It must be equally important to educate now the senior ranks of management so that they can appreciate new ideas and new thinking. It has been suggested that there are three stages of education for management. The first is, I think, generally accepted. It is the postgraduate period, when a young man needs a general course to familiarise himself with general technique and the basic skills of industry and commerce.

The second stage is up to 10 years later to fit him for a specialised post in general management. The third stage comes at the time of selection for top management. This is the moment when the individual should be given the opportunity for a period of withdrawal in which to view objectively the world in which he climbed up to his position of power and, above all, to take note of—more, to take a course covering—intellectual and practical subjects so that he can appreciate fully the application and scope of the most up-to-date thinking.

This third period is, I believe, the most important, partly because it is the one least likely to be noted by those who should take notice and partly because the initiative of those at the top affects so much those on the lower rungs of the ladder. Bearing in mind the figure I mentioned earlier, there must be about 440,000 managers of different kinds who have received no specialised management training at all.

This is some idea of the problem. Taken in isolation, it is bad enough, but taken in the knowledge of the competition we face from other countries it is far worse. So, on the one hand, there is need to increase facilities for training of the managers of the future. On the other hand, there is even more urgent need to re-educate and modernise present senior management so that junior and senior will in future be speaking the same language, based on the same principles, pertaining to 1965 and not to 1935.

Management contains many professionally qualified people. Many boards of directors contain a qualified accountant or an engineer, while the construction industry leans heavily on the architect. It is vital that the syllabus for all professional examinations connected with these and other professions be constantly revised. This is a task that I believe to be neglected at present. I am informed, for instance, that the syllabus for the accountancy examination contains no reference to the application of computers.

But not only is it important that the syllabuses for such examinations be brought up to date but that facilities are positively provided to see that those who have passed a professional examination in years, sometimes decades, past are kept in touch with the latest developments by means of refresher courses throughout their working lives. The problem, of course, is where all these courses can be organised and who is to run them.

I have already mentioned some of the courses which are available but I think far better use can be made at certain times of the year of our universities and I welcome in particular the Secretary of State's remarks with regard to sandwich courses.

In the United States the older universities grew up with a tradition of service to the particular needs and requirements of contemporary society. Originally, the primary concern of America was agriculture and so it was upon agriculture that most university effort was expended. Then the need came for training in the mechanical arts, and so the emphasis in the universities changed. Later again, it was the importance of business problems which required study, and so the universities decided to study and teach business. Thus grew up the great business schools so closely connected with the universities.

Perhaps in this country there has not been the same tradition, at least, not to such an extent, among our universities of serving the immediate needs of society. When there is now a greater requirement than ever before for re-education, why should they not now do so, not by any major change in the present courses, but purely by a better use of facilities?

In many ways the universities are our greatest under-used asset. It is only for a small proportion of the year that the halls of residence are inhabited and it is by no means for a full year day in day out that the laboratories and lecture halls are occupied and busy. Why should they not be put to better use in pusuit of the modernisation of the outlook of those educated in years gone by? The provision of facilities, therefore, does not provide an insuperable problem.

The recruitment of teachers and instructors is always more difficult, of course. Broadly, university staffs are already working at full stretch and cannot do much more. So it must be up to the professions themselves and to industry to make arrangements for the temporary release of leading experts and front runners in their particular fields who can refresh the outlook of others. This is a sphere of need to which the Government should be giving the most detailed consideration.

Most of my remarks have been based on the need to educate and re-educate for management. This has been entirely on purpose, for I believe that if management is effective and efficient, progress in other directions will follow as a natural corollary. Good management will demand the best advice and the most exquisite performance from highly-trained experts in every conceivable subject. But if this is to be provided now, when the speed of change has so increased, a much wider view of education must be taken.

At the beginning of my speech I drew attention to the remark in the Robbins Report that it will become increasingly important for practitioners to take courses at intervals to bring them up to date in their subjects. In the past, we have concentrated our efforts on the education of the child. Now we must concentrate on an entirely new approach to education—education from childhood to retirement. This concept must not remain a daydream, because it is of absolute necessity in the highly-competitive society in which we live today.

6.4 p.m.

Mr. William Hannan (Glasgow, Maryhill)

I do not propose to comment on the speech of the hon. Member for Devizes (Mr. Charles Morrison) except to say that I agree that we must do something about management. I want specifically to refer to the administration and management of the universities themselves and, more particularly, the Scottish universities. It may be thought before I have finished that I am asking that some of the professors with chairs in industrial psychology or industrial relations should first look at their own administration to see whether better relationships could not be established between the principals and the other grades of university lecturers.

I am glad that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland is here, because that shows the interest in universities and education which he normally displays. He will probably be aware of the importance of the decisions which now face him as the Minister to whom Scottish university affairs are referred. I was interested to hear my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science say that there was no formal link between his Department and the universities in England and Wales. In Scotland there is such a narrow formal link, and it is that link which we have been trying to exploit with a view to assisting education as a whole.

My interest in this matter was first aroused almost 10 years ago in pursuit of trying to ensure that the bulge then going through the schools and the increasing number of young people staying on after 15 and the need for more places in the universities—the crisis in education—would be met by expanding the accommodation in the universities. It was most disappointing to some of us to find that when we tried to get information there was an air of complacency and almost of resentment in the universities against such a procedure. It led to some public concern, and when the Robbins Committee finally published its Report, there seemed to some of us to be evidence that Scottish university authorities and education authorities generally had fallen down on their job of keeping even the then Government properly advised about the situation.

The fault for the lack of provision of university places lies equally at the door of the universities as of the political administrators of those days. It is because I am afraid that the impact of the Robbins Report, which is a damning indictment of the delays and procrastinations, is losing some of its pace and momentum that I refer to a matter which the hon. Lady for Renfrew, East (Miss Harvie Anderson) mentioned earlier. I believe that our views on this matter agree. I should like to take the matter a little further.

The Robbins Committee referred to the lay elements of university government circles and referred to the extreme view that lay members ought not to be on these governing bodies. The Report went on to refer to the fact that 85 per cent. of university money is public money, which gives greater reason for lay representation on university authori- ties. Speaking of what it called this extreme view—that there should be no lay representation—the Report said: We are not in sympathy with this view. More than 85 per cent. of university finance comes from public sources and in our judgment it is in general neither practicable nor justifiable that the spending of university funds should be wholly in the hands of the users. But it went on, correctly, to point out that that lay opinion should not interfere in the detailed day-to-day administration of the universities. I concur with that view.

But non-professorial staff complained to the Robbins Committee that they were not doing an adequate share of the administrative work of the faculties and departments. The Robbins Report said that there was some justification for these complaints. In my view, all members of the academic staff should be invited to take part in the formulation of policies at departmental level right up to the senate and board of studies level. Insufficient attention is given in very many cases to the qualities of good teaching, and ability in research or, more often, the aptitude for writing publications are the criteria used in assessing the qualifications for promotion. The result is that many excellent teachers cut their commitments and publish as much as they can while others who are dedicated to teaching and their students continue with their work feeling that their chances of promotion may be jeopardised. This leads to a sense of frustration in the staff rooms. They are all good, fully-qualified professional people, but little value is placed on their opinions, ideas and initiative and their advice is seldom, if ever, sought.

Recently, Lord Cameron made a speech as the Chairman of the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland. He indicated at the trust's annual dinner that it might be willing to support inquiries in the universities into their relations with one another and into their future purposes and expectations. He posed a simple question which he did not propose to answer. What is a university? It is a simple but very embarrassing question which seems to demand an answer. Some university authorities have not yet provided an answer. He went on to pose other questions: what particular aims and purposes should the the universities select and pursue and how best should they pursue them, and what measure of academic freedom could they require and justify? Later he referred to the primary purpose of universities in research and teaching, but he asked, teaching and research to what end?". These are apposite and important questions.

I do not propose to attack the university authorities in Scotland who are and have been doing a magnificent job with inadequate means and resources. But the question must be asked: is it not high time to break away from the inadequate, obsolete 1889 Act from which they derive their constitution? Subsequent amending Acts have been passed which have only made the confusion worse confounded. As the hon. Lady the Member for Renfrew, East said, these Acts have been in existence for about a hundred years. They provided for small communities which were then isolated with strong internal ties.

Today the population of universities varies from 2,000 to 9,000. In those days the teaching staff consisted entirely of professors. But now the ratio of professors to lecturers in some cases is 1 to 5 and in others only 1 to 10. The finances of the universities then were independent of the State. Today, they are dependent on the State for finance to the extent of 85 per cent. University independence and internal self-government mean something different today from what they meant a hundred years ago.

The Robbins Report, in paragraph 690, says: We cannot believe that such a law now serves a useful purpose and, although we are assured that in practice the habit of informal conference and a disposition to give-and-take render it less irksome than it might easily be, we think that it must impose a limitation on initiative and experiment.…It is right, too, that the state should be provided…with relevant statistical information. But there are other and better ways of achieving these ends. I agree. The paragraph goes on: we have no hesitation, therefore, in recommending that the Act be repealed…". That is the view of the Association of University Teachers and of most people in universities in Scotland.

Mr. Speaker

Order. I am afraid that we are in difficulty. I have only just come into the Chair, but the repeal of legislation would, in itself, require legislation which we cannot discuss. I have no discretion in that matter. It is not like a debate on the Adjournment.

Mr. Hannan

I will try to pay attention to the point you have made, Mr. Speaker. It is undemocratic that lecturers have no rights and no status.

It is on these conflicting attitudes that the Secretary of State has to make his decision. I hope that he will look at the need for progress and that he will come to the decision which we expect of him. The Association of University Teachers in Scotland has 1,800 members. They cover all grades of staff, and professors as well as lecturers. I remind my right hon. Friend that we had to introduce a small amending Bill to ensure that the previous occupant of his office was not visited by the full rigours of the law because of the non-observance of certain duties which he should have carried out. A more radical examination must be undertaken of the present constitution because the overall effect of the proposed changes would not give the staff their proper democratic rights in the examination of these other problems.

I will not pursue that matter. I should like to return to the two points which my hon. Friend the Member for Hitchin (Mrs. Shirley Williams) made, particularly about girls in the schools and the fact that we are not making sufficient use of the facilities to encourage girls to participate in the study of mathematics and science. My hon. Friend said that the provision of teachers was so crucial that she thought that women who had retired should be brought back to the profession. This raises the question whether the time has been reached when we should bring back teachers who have retired and pay their pensions. I know that this would be a breach in public service conditions and in former practice. But the matter has become so crucial that this possibility will have to be considered.

If a teacher retires he can receive his pension and be employed in another job. He can, if he wishes, become the janitor in the school at which he taught. He can be a doorkeeper, a liftman or a messenger, but he certainly cannot teach without losing his pension. Hon. Members have, spoken of the wastage of women teachers leaving the profession to marry. They are away from the schools for a certain number of years but when their families have grown up their situation is changed. I know that great efforts are being made by both my right hon. Friends to recruit more women teachers and all of us hope that those efforts will be successful.

May I, in conclusion, put two points to my right hon. Friend. With regard to the representations he has received from the Association of University Teachers about proposals for amending the constitution, will he at least give an assurance that he will have as much regard for the proposals made by the university teachers' organisation as he has given to the proposals of the university principals? Secondly, would he try to give some assurance that in considering this matter he will try to provide a statutory right whereby annual reports will be provided by a university giving in greater detail information on finance and the number of students to the same extent as such information is available in some universities in England and Wales?

6.21 p.m.

The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. William Ross)

It may be for the convenience of the House if I reply at once to the points raised on Scottish universities. Scotland has done relatively well in the post-Robbins developments in respect of universities.

Notice taken that 40 Members were not present;

House counted, and, 40 Members being present—

Mr. Ross

The approval given for the new university in Stirling and for the elevation of the Heriot-Watt College in Edinburgh and Queen's College in Dundee to university status still stands. Strathclyde also is new in the university field and has been nominated as one of the technological institutions which is to have special attention. In the meantime, the older universities of Scotland are doing their bit in relation to the new needs and are expanding considerably: so much so that they are changing in nature from the days when they were established and certainly from the days when the statutory link that was formed—and which is unique in respect of these universities—was made between them and the Government and Parliament. This was a matter referred to in the Robbins Report. The constitution of St. Andrew's, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Edinburgh is set out in various Acts of different ages and stages and in ordinances made under these Acts, ordinances which come before the House—sometimes to the surprise of hon. Members. The principal Act is that of 1889, to which the hon. Lady referred. This sets out the constitution, powers and functions of the main organs of university government and lays down the procedure which should be followed in the wide range of important matters which the universities are required to deal with by means of ordinance.

The universities themselves in the past have frequently criticised the Acts on the grounds that they require them to go through unnecessary and cumbersome administrative procedure. The Robbins Committee took the view that it was anomalous for these universities to be so restricted in this day and age and recommended that the 1889 Act should be repealed and that each university should settle its own constitution as new universities have been doing regularly in the past few years. But the proposals for reform submitted by the university courts do not seek the repeal of the Universities (Scotland) Acts but call for their amendment so that the procedures followed under them may be simplified. It is their view—with some justification—that when the universities are faced with the great external challenges involved in expansion it is not the time to brood over internal problems of constitution making.

The views of the Association of University Teachers were fairly put forward by the hon. Lady and by my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Mary-hill (Mr. Hannan) who argued strongly in favour of repeal, maintaining that constitutions deriving largely from 19th century Acts are ambiguous and unsuitable for dealing with 20th century conditions; and it was suggested that more fundamental reform would assure academic staff a greater say in senates and courts. We can all appreciate the balance of the argument. I would repeat that consideration is being given to the various proposals made, and there will he further consultation with interested parties as appropriate. We shall not dismiss out of hand proposals which have been put forward by anyone. I give my hon. Friend the Member for Maryhill an assurance that we will give due and equal consideration to proposals which come forward from the Association of University Teachers and to representations from principals.

Mr. Tam Dalyell (West Lothian)

Is my right hon. Friend aware of the great satisfaction that this will give to many university teachers in Scotland?

Mr. Ross

It is not yet possible to say when there will be legislation on this matter. I am sorry to have to mention legislation, because I know of the limitation in this debate, but I must do so for the simple reason that if we are to establish a new university it means the hiving off from St. Andrews of Queen's College, Dundee, and building from there a new university. This severance legislation will form part of the major legislative changes to the universities Acts. The need to achieve the separation of Dundee from St. Andrews will come within the next year or two, which lends particular urgency to our consideration of the proposals which have been put forward from each side.

Sir E. Boyle

In view of what the right hon. Gentleman has said, may I tell him that we on this side of the House shall, of course, regard this as entirely non-controversial. If there is any difficulty about timing I recognise that this may have to be to some extent retrospective, and we accept that.

Mr. Ross

Our timing is dictated by what we hope to do in the establishment of the university itself, but that does not mean to say that nothing is being done at the moment. Much is being done by the Academic Advisory Committee. But it means that we are not free agents in relation to time and we do not want to delay. We hope that we may have the legislation in the next Session, or failing that, early in the following Session. I am glad to have an assurance from the right hon. Gentleman that it will be regarded as non-controversial. I wish that I could have that assurance from my hon. Friends, but I cannot think of anything that is more controversial in Scotland than the extension of universities.

The syllabus is all-important, not only in respect of its intrinsic merit, but the effect that it has on the problem about which the hon. Lady spoke, namely, the balance between boys and girls in relation to whether or not they are coming forward to take their places in due proportion to study science subjects at universities.

In Scotland we are fortunate in not having this over-specialisation. We have longer courses at our universities, and thus there is not the same rigidity in respect of the prospect of a child—if we can call a person of that age a child—making up his mind too early about the course to take. The result is that within this flexibility there is a greater possibility of being able to influence people with regard to the faculty to which they should go. This is one reason why it is not quite such a serious problem with us, and we are doing quite a lot about it.

As the hon. Lady knows, we are the first country on this side of the Atlantic to have a recombing of the science syllabus in secondary schools, and I think that we have the right balance in respect of the importance of these subjects.

With these few remarks from me on the Scottish aspect of university matters, I hope that my hon. Friend the Member for Maryhill, and the hon. Lady will appreciate that we are fully aware of the differing points of view. We are actively considering them, and I shall certainly give due weight to the points which have been raised today.

6.32 p.m.

Mr. Merlyn Rees (Leeds, South)

I am sure that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland will understand if I do not follow him into Scottish matters even if, as a Celt, I have some prescription to do that, but in a moment or two I should like to refer to some of the points that he made about finance and university freedom.

The right hon. Member for Birmingham, Handsworth (Sir E. Boyle) said something which rather disturbed me. As shown by the statistics, I took him to say that there would be an increase in the number of first generation students who would be following higher education in the years to come. I took him to argue from that, at least to some degree—I do not want to overstate the case—that non-degree studies would be suitable for people of this kind.

I hope that I am not doing the right hon. Gentleman an injustice. This is something about which I feel very strongly. I know that there are problems of educational assimilation, if that is the right word, for people from traditionally working-class homes, but I also know, from my own experience, and from what I have heard in my constituency, that there are a large number of students, mainly boys it is true, who have gone to university and have done extremely well by taking degree courses. My constituency is in "Hoggart" country. Professor Hoggart was born in South Leeds and his book, "The Uses of Literacy", is about an area from which has come a large number of first generation students who have gone to university and whom, since I have been a Member of this House, I have met in high places in different parts of the country. I hope that it will not generally be thought that there is a sort of step-up; that children from homes of this sort will have to do further education courses first to get the atmosphere before they can go any further.

The hon. Member for Devizes (Mr. Charles Morrison) raised a subject in which I am very interested by trade, as it were, the subject of management, in which, on the teaching side, I did a little before I came into the House. I agree with the hon. Gentleman that more has to be done in this respect, but I should like to raise a danger signal here.

There is a danger that management will become some sort of sacred cow when it comes to providing courses. It was put to me forcibly at one of our universities the other day that one has only to suggest a course such as "management and mathematics", or "management and cybernetics", or "management and social science", "management and chips", as someone added, it does not matter, and a course can be arranged on it. I took the point that much has to be done, but the educational world is a creature of moods, and the mood at the moment is management, but it can be overdone.

It seems to me that there is a danger that the whole field of higher education and the provision of finance for it can also become a sacred cow. We are all agreed that higher education is very important. We have been told by Robbins, and goodness knows how many others, that money must be provided for higher education—and it is right that this should be done—but I wish that primary education could get as good a Press as higher education, and get more money, because, again in my constituency, when I see vast buildings going up in one part of the city for the university—and of course this is right—I wish that a little of it could creep down to some of our primary schools.

It is possible to become so concerned with expansion that we come to ignore many of the problems in higher education. One of these, and this has been borne in on me during my short period of service in the House, is the control of the finance of higher education. Are we getting value for money now that the C.A.T.s are coming into the sphere of university education?

If my brief bit of research is right, in the financial year 1965–66 we shall be spending£193 million on education controlled by the U.G.C. This is one-tenth of the money spent on defence. We are concerned about defence spending, but we do not seem to be nearly so concerned about spending money on higher education. I wonder, also, whether the U.G.C. is equipped to carry out all the functions that it has to perform these days with this growing budget.

Other hon. Members this afternoon have raised questions concerning the use of buildings, and making full use of staff. In my view one of the most important things that we have to do in the years to come, when far more money will be spent on higher education, is to look at the financial procedures and not be bamboozled to some degree by the argument about university freedom, important though this is. I would be the last to deny that concept, but to some degree it is hiding many of the financial problems which we in this Committee ought not to let out of our grasp.

Mr. Norman Atkinson (Tottenham)

I take it that in advancing this argument about the examination of costs my hon. Friend is not suggesting that we ought to have some sort of inspectorate looking into the universities. I have listened to arguments about this business of examining costs. I take it that my hon. Friend is not suggesting that we ought to introduce the thin end of the wedge by sending inspectors into the universities.

Mr. Rees

As one who has suffered, if that is the right word, under inspectors in other parts of education, far be it from me to inflict them on anybody. What I had in mind was that the accounts of the universities should at least come under the control of the Comptroller and Auditor-General. I am thinking in terms of Parliamentary control.

The failure rate at universities is, to some degree, inevitable, but the figures in Chapter 3 and Appendix 29 of the Robbins Report are incredible. For example, in 1961 about 14 per cent. of the young men and women who went to university, having obtained the necessary qualifications, failed to graduate. In an article in the Sunday Times at the time of the publication of the Robbins Report Professor Ford said: Out of 27,000 boys and girls who entered universities in 1961 nearly 4,000 will have failed. This 'few'"— as he calls them— adds up to the total population of a fair sized university such as Bristol or Sheffield. Is enough attention given to the reasons for this? I understand that the failure rate is far lower at Oxford and Cambridge. Is this because the methods of selection at Oxford and Cambridge are far more accurate than for other universities, or is it that being more mature institutions, there is no meritocracy? Is it a fact that at other institutions it is believed that a high failure rate is necessary in order to encourage the others? Is it a fact that at least one of the two of the older universities runs a fourth-class honours degree, which is not done at other universities?

Looking at the figures, we see that by far the greatest reason for failure is academic. It is interesting to note that the science failure rate is higher than that for the arts. Is it the fault of the universities that this is happening? Why is it different at some universities than at others? Is it different for some social and academic groups than for others? What figures are available on this question?

One thing which must be investigated more fully is the fact that at least at one of our larger universities students who have been at boarding schools have a much higher failure rate than those who went to day school. This is of some concern to me because, unlike some of my hon. Friends, I am not so concerned about the position of the public schools. This may be because I have no conscience in this respect. The aspect of the failure problem ought to be examined.

The question of sixth forms is one of which I have more direct experience. In my view many of the sixth forms in maintained grammar schools do not do a proper job in training students for the universities. This is not because of some weakness on the part of the people who run them, but because the facilities in the sixth forms in State schools are not good enough. In the school in which I ran a sixth form for about 10 years the facilities which existed for about 120 students were exactly the same as they had been when I was there just before the war, although in terms of size there was no difference in the institution. In this instance this problem was overcome.

Running a sixth form is not merely a question of rustling up a few teachers and running a course according to an A-level syllabus. When we talk about a sixth form college I hope we are not merely using just another device to introduce comprehensive education but are expressing the view that a sixth form college would provide a number of facilities which are not available in some schools at the moment.

If I understood the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Handsworth correctly, he said that he hoped the C.A.T.s would not become too academic but would stick to their original last in this respect. If this is the case, it must be pointed out that far too many sixth form teachers, and far too many headmasters of schools in which there are sixth forms, because in the C.A.T.s there is less tang of the academic, will not give them the necessary accolade at prize day and the rest. The mere use of "technical" in many grammar schools is held to mean that it is slightly inferior to the grammar schools where the studies are more academic.

In recent years there has been a tendency to defend everything about the grammar schools, as though there is nothing wrong with them. I agree that there is a great deal right about them, but we should give more thought to technical studies, and the weaknesses of sixth forms in this respect.

This leads me to the question of the supply of teachers. My right hon. Friend gave us some figures about this, and I understand that he is shortly to announce short-term measures to deal with this problem which, as he says, is the major one facing education at the moment.

Is sufficient account taken of the part which can be played in the supply of teachers by the extra-mural departments of the universities? When they first developed, in the early days of the W.E.A., and in association with the W.E.A., they were thought of from the point of view of fulfilling social purposes which were relevant to those days. The standard of courses provided—especially the three-year courses—runs to a very great depth. In many cases it goes far deeper than is the case with academic courses in training colleges. Properly arranged, it would be possible for mature students in particular to follow courses which would count as credits when those students went to teacher training colleges to do professional training. Such credits are awarded in America on a wide scale, and the system has some relevance here.

I would go a little further on the question of extramural departments and teacher training at the universities. The extramural departments get their moneys from the University Grants Committee, as do the departments of education and institutes of education. I am not convinced that the status—an overworked word in these days—of extramural departments in universities is high enough. I am not so sure that their pressure within the university heirarchy is great enough to ensure that they receive the amount of money that they ought to receive.

I am also sure that institutes of education and departments of education at many universities tend to be regarded as inferior. If a person is studying archaeology or some such subject it is fine, but once a person starts talking about studying education it is thought of as a soft option. It is regarded as something that a person can do for a year after having done three years' hard work—a year when he can back-pedal and become more human before going out into the world. I wonder whether sufficient money is made available by the U.G.C. and the vice-chancellors to enable the extramural departments and the institutes of education to do their proper work.

On the question of teacher supply, I recall the former right hon. Member for South Shields, who was at the Board of Education during the war, in the days of the former Member for Saffron Walden, saying that at the end of the war, when the Board was considering the question of teacher supply—this was a long time ago—it discussed the matter with the vice-chancellors and that, to put it bluntly, the vice-chancellors were not very concerned about teacher supply. This is one reason why, when we are talking about the procedures and the administration of teacher training colleges, the importance of teacher supply has to be borne in mind, there is a necessity for the L.E.A.s to have a large say in the number of places available.

Mr. James Tinn (Cleveland)

I wonder whether my hon. Friend is aware that his argument that suitable courses of further education by the extramural departments should be considered for credit purposes in teacher training colleges is reinforced by the fact that in both the ancient universities such courses are already accepted as evidence when considering applications by students for full-time courses at those universities.

Mr. Rees

My hon. Friend is quite right. The special relationship which exists between Ruskin College, Oxford, and other colleges at Oxford bears this out, although in a slightly different degree. This leads me to the question of the colleges of education. As one who spent two years just before the war at a teacher training college before eventually going on to the university, I am glad that the name has been changed. Perhaps I am over-stressing this question of status. The trouble with the training college is that it has a slight tang of the poor law and of such novels as "Tess of the D'Urbervilles"—that the children of the poor deserve to have a chance in life. There is something wrong about it, and I am glad that the name has been changed. I am equally glad that opportunities are given for the granting of degrees and training for degrees, because, in my experience, one of the things about any form of higher education, whether it is at colleges of education or otherwise, is that after a year or two there is an emancipation; that when many young men and women who had never thought of taking a degree set foot in a technical college or a college of education, they begin to realise the possibilities which are involved.

I am glad also that we have tonight discussed the question of internal government of the colleges of education. I think that when the previous Secretary of State made his announcement on 11th December that changes were taking place, he said that the methods of internal governrnent were being reviewed. I wonder what pitch we have come to in this review. In my view, the administration of training colleges is not suitable to their status. For example, are the staff of colleges of education represented on the governing bodies? A problem arises out of this situation, which seems to receive approval from both Front Benches. The L.E.A.s must maintain an important position in the governments of colleges of education. If the governing bodies are to be free, will there not be a conflict, because is it not usually the governing body which makes the fundamental policy decisions? If the L.E.A.s are to retain that, there would immediately be a conflict with the governing body.

On the question of the granting of degrees, the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Handsworth, argued—and it is a very respectable argument, which he has put in many places—that it would be wrong if all teachers had to aim for a university degree. There was a question of the content of the courses as well. I should like to put one problem which arises in many common rooms and, in so far as I followed both courses—the graduate course and the old two-year course—I have my foot in both camps. Someone may be doing a three-year course to some depth at a teacher training college, while, by reason of the politics of salary determination, somebody who has done a not very good degree at a university will immediately—by virtue only of having a degree, and not necessarily a good Honours degree—have about£60 or is it£90 per annum. Yet a comparison between the two is such that it ought to be the other way round. We have also had the case put that many a graduate is not a very good teacher and that some very good natural teachers come out of the colleges of education. In this question of what is eventually to be the ratio between graduates and non-graduates in colleges of education, I hope that the question of salary will not be forgotten.

Two very brief questions come under this heading of higher education. The first is research. In the last year or two—perhaps a little longer—there has been far more research emanating from the Department. Grants are given to institutions of higher education in many ways. This is first-rate work and something which ought to have been done before. What are the procedures by which monies can be obtained for this research? One meets, while travelling round the country, people who have ideas for research and the question is asked, "Whom do I get in touch with? Do I write to the Department?"

Mr. Crosland

indicated assent.

Mr. Rees

I have had the answer right away. One writes to the Department. Can I put it another way? Is there any other machinery whereby the inspectorate, for example, can do something in this respect? Many of them have seen much of what is going on in the schools. This is the other side of the medal now to the hate side which 1 mentioned—all the very good work which inspectors do. I had to put that in because I have so many friends who are inspectors and I must put the record right.

The other point is administration. To run a big school these days one needs to be a manager, because it often contains more than 2,000 students. To run the average technical college, where there are perhaps 11,000 students in the course of a week, one also needs to be a manager. Is anything being done to train people to administer these schools? There is the administration staff college at Henley for top managers in business. There is the Industrial Training Act—I am glad to see present my hon. Friend the Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour—which is administered by the Ministry of Labour. But should not more be done in education? Should not more be done to train university administrators to think of the problems and to deal with the problems which they will have to face.

I think that it was my hon. Friend the Member for Hitchin (Mrs. Shirley Williams) who mentioned the relationships between industry and the academic world at M.I.T., the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. I hope to see such a relationship between the regional planning boards which are being set up and the universities in a region.

I know that the Department of Economic Affairs has given thought to some relationship whereby some research will be done for the regional planning board. I raise this tonight because I hope that, in so far as it has a peculiar relationship with the U.G.C., the Department will bear in mind that there will increasingly be requests and money will have to be provided by the regional planning board concerned, with its effect on staff provision, in order that regional plans can be worked out.

Higher education is fast becoming a major industry. I want to come back to my first point, which was the major reason that I rose this evening. Because it is a major industry, because it spends so much of the public monies, I hope that a great deal of attention will soon be given to the relationships between the Department and the U.G.C.—but not to limit academic freedom. Mere politicians should be the last people to interfere in this, but mere politicians are the first people who should consider the taxpayers' money which is being expended at an ever-growing rate.

6.59 p.m.

Mr. Ernest Armstrong (Durham, North-West)

Before I reach the main point which I want to make in the debate, I should like to comment very briefly on some of the matters which have been raised. I should like to begin with universities and the failures at university. I have been particularly concerned about first-generation students at university who appear before me, as Chairman of the Further Education Sub-Committee, because they have left the university. I feel that much more could be done at university to interview students who are obviously finding themselves out of touch altogether with the normal routine, and who leave before they have had time to find their feet. I wish to draw the atten- tion of the Secretary of State to that very serious problem. I am alarmed at the growing number.

I wish to mention two matters in connection with teacher supply. In respect of day training colleges, which have made a significant contribution to this the greatest problem that the education service faces, I think that we have erred a little in restraining the over 40s. When a mature student of 43, 44 or 45 makes application to a day training college, the possibility of gaining entry is very small In view of the great wastage, about which my hon. Friend the Member for Hitchin (Mrs. Shirley Williams) made a strong point, it seems to me that if we train a mature student, a married woman whose family has grown up, who is 45, 46 or even 48, at the completion of her training we are likely to have some valuable continuous service from her until retirement age. In the present crisis in teacher supply that is something which we certainly cannot afford to ignore.

Another point which has been borne in on me recently from personal experience is the great difficulty that we are experiencing in attracting teachers of physics, chemistry, mathematics and other subjects. One finds that well-qualified people, anxious to spend all their time teaching subjects of value, are wasting their time, as it were, setting up simple apparatus and doing all kinds of work in a school which might well be done by other people not so well qualified professionally. This applies particularly in my own area—I am sure that it applies also in other areas—where for the past century men have relied on the basic heavy industries—mining, ship building and so on. By retraining men in their 40s by a short course in a college of further education, they could be made first-class stewards in science laboratories. This would help to solve a great social problem and would make sure that the scarce teaching resources available are being used in the best interests. I commend that idea to the Secretary of State.

I wish to make only one other point on what has been raised in the debate. There is a fear among those employed in our regional technical colleges who are doing a very good job, and I speak with great authority in respect of the Sunderland Technical College—colleges which have provided greater opportunities for students in their areas and from overseas as well—that the present concentration on colleges of advanced technology will result in the gap between regional colleges and the C.A.T.s being widened.

Much has been said—I appreciate the words of the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Handsworth (Sir E. Boyle) on the matter—about the need to continue sandwich courses and to encourage and stimulate those who having decided late to educate themselves in this way have missed the full-time courses at university and the like. It is essential that this should be carried on and extended. We want our regional technical colleges to be maintained at the sort of standard which will continue to attract teachers of the highest possible quality. Anything that the Secretary of State can do in that direction will be welcomed.

I wish now to turn to the real burden of my speech. It has always seemed to me that in this country we educate and we concentrate our resources on students of marked ability, very often at the expense of those with limited ability. One of the things that Crowther emphasised was the way in which most students leaving our secondary schools took for granted that further education was not for them. Fortunately, since the war there has been a change but much more needs to be done. One of the difficulties in talking about further education and those who are not going to the universities, who are not aiming for a university degree or even a teachers certificate, is that we are accused of wanting, as it were, to level down. Tonight we have spent our time discussing the small minority of young people who will go to university. Anything that I say tonight does not mean that I do not wish to continue to give to all our children who prove themselves capable the privilege and opportunity of a university education. We must continue to do that and to extend and increase the numbers who are admitted.

I wish to talk more about those who will continue at colleges of further education in the evenings, some in a part-time capacity, through day release and so on, and others as full-time students. Crowther commenting on the world of further education said: It is a world which often seems to those in schools to be a foreign country whose language is incomprehensible and for which they feel that a visa is probably necessary. We have a great deal to learn in this connection. In British education we have a mania for visas. Every stage of education needs a visa and, unless a person is so qualified, somehow or other we persuade him that it would be a waste of time to attend a particular type of educational institution. It is alarming to realise that in 1959 only 1 in 8 of those in the 16 to 18-year-old group was in full-time education. Yet we know the number of children who are selected to go to a selective school at the age of 11. The aim laid down by Crowther was that by 1980 we should have 1 in 2.

It has been expressed on both sides of the House that we should regard continuous association with the education service in one way or another—certainly up to the age of 18—as the normal thing for all our children. One of the difficulties about British education has been this idea which has grown up and has been fostered—we have all accepted it in the past—that if we educate the top ability group and select an elite and educate them, in some way we are doing our job as a community and fulfilling our purpose as educationists. This is not a party matter. All of us serving in local authorities and in schools, anyone connected with the education service, realises the great necessity in this strange world in which we live of giving everyone, even those who are not easily singled out as being above the average, as much education as we can possibly provide for them. Nothing else will do if the education system is to meet the requirements of this tumultuous and dynamic century.

Since the White Paper of 1956, which was concerned with technical education, there has been a great advance. At one time I felt that vocational training was a dangerous innovation. I have completely changed my mind. There was a time when I strongly resisted the teaching of such things as typing and business subjects in the top forms of secondary schools. My argument against it was that anyone could be trained to type, but since then I have seen girls who had lost all interest in formal education being introduced to business courses in which some of their time was taken up with what I would call the monotonous occupation of typewriting. However, their whole attitude to school had changed. School became a place with a relevance to the life which they hoped to follow when they left it and English and other subjects became things in which dedicated and able teachers were able to interest them.

If we can get rid of this mania for visas and attract more young people into further education, and persuade them to give part of their time—and some of them all of their time—to further study, the colleges will be performing an important task for those in training and for the nation.

It is difficult to draw a line between what is vocational and what is the personal development of the student. I suggest that it is impossible to divide education and training. We must guard against talking about young people as though they are productive units. We talk about preparation for this and that, but all young people have a right to the full development of their personalities at the time when they are studying—at the time when they are living—and not to be following something which will help them in, say, five years' time. That is why, when we are talking about industrial training and so on, the Department of Education and Science should play an increasing part.

One of the pernicious doctrines is that those who are going into manual work do not need further education. We must get away from this idea because in this modern industrial society there is a shortage of skills at every level and the main criterion must be the personality of the individual. Everyone has the right to all that we can give educationally.

Appreciating that other hon. Members wish to speak in the debate I will conclude by saying that something which shocks people from abroad is the way in which we send our youngsters at such an early age into workshops, mines, factories and so on. This transition from school to adult life is always bewildering and sometimes it is overwhelming. We must not treat the colleges of further education—and I do not plead that we should not do anything about our universities—as places where children who would otherwise go into manual jobs can train to take white collar jobs. That is not the idea of colleges of further education.

There is nothing wrong or evil about one wanting to improve on the occupation one has followed. We have a necessary duty in our colleges of further education to provide all the facilities—swimming baths, assembly halls and so on where drama, physical education and other activities can take place—to give an atmosphere of cultural activity for every mature citizen to enjoy.

While I have been interested in what has been said about our universities, I plead for those who hitherto have gone straight from school into adult life, many of whom have found the change almost beyond them. In further education we have a tremendous opportunity to enable our youngsters to become mature citizens in every sense of the word.

7.16 p.m.

Dr. Jeremy Bray (Middlesbrough, West)

I am sure that the whole House wholeheartedly supports the hon. Member for Durham, North-West (Mr. Armstrong) on his emphasis of the importance of further education. I pay tribute to the part which he played in the development of Sunderland Technical College and the part which the technical colleges generally in the North-East have played in the very necessary revitalisation of the outlook of the working comunity, which is apparent at all levels of society and throughout the colleges.

Before coming to my main theme, I thank the Secretary of State for his reference to the possibility of a new technical university in the North-East. His statement will be helpful and we look forward, as the consideration of this matter proceeds, to a further statement from him on this issue. We all welcomed the statement that he wished, to consult with the U.G.C. on the question of a site. I suggest that it might also be helpful for him to discuss the matter with the new Regional Council and Board, which are concerned with all aspects of the life of the region and not only with the educational aspect, which is certainly not the only factor involved in the choosing of a site.

I also thank the Minister for commenting on the subject which was raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Hitchin (Mrs. Shirley Williams): the provision of care for the children of women wishing to return to teaching. My hon. Friend suggested that nursery classes should be provided where their provision would result in a net increase in teacher supply to schools generally.

I suggest that there is an even simpler action; the admission of children to school before the age of five. This is now generally done by most education authorities for mothers who are returning to teaching. It is not always done for women who wish to attend day training colleges to qualify as teachers. The Minister of State, by means of intervention with one of my local authorities, has been able to help in one case, but there are many others which could be helped if this matter were explored in regard to teacher training as well as teaching.

The Secretary of State's concluding remark was that he looked to the expansion of higher education to have a great influence in the country generally towards social equality. It is about that that I want to speak.

In university expansion, in the most unbiblical manner, seven lean years have been followed by seven fat years, and if we look ahead we see that, from 1970, seven fat years will be followed by seven even fatter years—and quite how fat these will be is hidden in the obscurities and depths of the appendices to the Robbins Report.

I question very much whether I correctly interpret these tables, but I read in Table Z.2 of Appendix 1—and I am sure that someone in the Department will check this—that the number of students from England and Wales entering English and Welsh universities between 1960 and 1970 is likely to go from 24,000 to 36,000—an increase of 50 per cent. in ten years. That is staggering enough, in all conscience, but between 1970 and 1980 the number of students entering universities will double from 36.000 to 72,000. If we average that out in terms of university places it seems to be a rather smooth curve, but it will have the most terriffic impact, not only on the practice of schools but even more on employment when the students come out—a social impact.

The Robbins Report quite rightly dodged the question of the demand for university graduates. It took up the position that if there are students coming forward qualified for university education they should have it, but as the Secretary of State referred to the need for a continuing Robbins Committee as it were—as also did the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Handsworth (Sir E. Boyle)—I should like to urge that this continuing standing Robbins Committee should turn its attention rather more to the demand for university graduates than the original Robbins Committee wanted to do—and this for a number of very practical reasons.

First of all, there is the question of absolutely definitely known demands for graduates, and the most important and pressingly urgent demand is that for teachers. This has been well appreciated by Professor Klaus Moser and those working with him—some of them from the Department of Education. They are working on a comprehensive model of the whole education system, dealing with the emergence of children, through different stages of education, into further and higher education, and then back into teaching, with the appropriate lags and taking into account all the appropriate fall-outs at different stages.

Following from this the steps can be taken now to avoid certain unforeseen eventualities in ten years' time. Professor Klaus Moser observed the other day that the excess of technological places in universities this year has been the result, not of planning but of half planning, in that we have had the places in universities but not in relation to the kind of children coming forward in the schools. His present work will certainly avoid the worst disparities of this kind occurring within the educational system in the future.

But it is very necessary to extend this work from the educational system to the labour market in general. This is being tackled in the field of scientific and technological manpower by Sir Willis Jackson's Committee, in integration with the educational model. That Committee is using sophisticated techniques. It is not just sending out questionnaires asking "How many people do you expect to employ in twenty years' time?" but, "If this, then what?"—on a kind of input-output basis of what is likely to happen and how to fit in considerations of alternative possibilities, and so on.

That kind of approach is not being taken in the general manpower field. There is a marked difference in the type of approach used in the manpower research unit of the Ministry of Labour and the statistical section of the Department of Education. I hope that the Secretary of State will initiate discussions on this subject with a view to the kind of decisions his Department will have to take, and will have to argue with the Treasury, not only in the course of the next few years but immediately.

First of all, there is for my right hon. Friend the question of the type of provision we make within higher education. Does the Chairman of the University Grants Committee, in talking with a vice-chancellor, say, "You can have so many thousands of£s, and with it you can build a science department or you can build an arts department", with the vice-chancellor having to make up his mind which, because he cannot have both? If he makes a mistake, in the short term, money lost; in the longer term, it is a mismatching of the needs of the community to the outflow from the universities.

There is also the question of the ease with which my right hon. Friend will be able to justify the even more gigantic expenditure of the 'seventies. There will be the need during the 'seventies not only to provide additional places but also to tease out the provision for the expansion that is taking place during the 'sixties. In this connection, I would mention the subject of student accommodation. My hon. Friend the Member for Hitchin has rightly said that it is better to be a student in a garret than not to be a student at all, but this appears in a rather different light when one realises that in Oxford and Cambridge 57 per cent. of the students are in college residence, while only 15 per cent. are in college residence in the provincial universities in England and Wales; that in Oxford and Cambridge the average student spends two years in three in college, while in provincial universities only half the students can spend even one year in college. So long as this is so, there will be a disparity in the preference of students for different universities.

This is the kind of redressing of the balance that the Secretary of State will have to do, and will want to do in the 'seventies, and for which he will have to justify very much bigger increases in spending on higher education even than are dreamt of today.

If the Secretary of State is to justify the high spending in economic terms, in terms of the need of the community for university graduates, he will also, in view of what he has said on many occasions, be very concerned with the social implications. There are here two factors that should begin to be discussed in view of the increasing effect they will have on the educational scene in the next few years.

The first is the fact of not being one in twenty-five, when one is a university graduate, but of being one in twelve, or one in fewer than twelve. The Secretary of State correctly said that the spread of higher education diminishes inequality. It does this in one sense, in that it admits more students to the privilege of higher education, but it does so in another sense, in that it diminishes the scarcity value of higher education. University students in the future will not always be doing the same kind of job that university students have done in the past.

If not faced squarely in bringing the prospects of career development, and so on, clearly into the minds of school children going to university, and into the minds of university students, this will result in a very frustrated generation of graduates in the latter part of this century. But there is no reason why it should, because we can apply the same principle as we have done to higher education to the organisation of the economy generally and to the organisation of methods of production generally so that in fact we develop industry in those directions which provide interesting work which people are educated up to doing, just as today we provide higher education places for those who are qualified for them. This is a matter in which the type of sophisticated approach which is being taken within education needs to be extended.

The other factor, apart from the internal balance within a generation of the number of university graduates, is the relationship between different generations, the fact that in one generation the deputy town clerk will be a graduate and in the older generation he will not be one but will be somebody who has taken all the examinations during the course of his service in the local government department. If the balance between the generations is to be redressed, there will have to be large in-service retraining at all levels—at the higher education level, at the further education level, and at the industrial training level. The hon. Member for Devizes (Mr. Charles Morrison) mentioned this. This is something for which provision must be made, not merely in the nooks and crannies of higher education during vacations on university sites, but also in the structure of the university.

The question should be considered whether it is right to channel all the funds for the expansion of higher education through the university, rather than, say, through agencies which would have a more direct financial interest in encouraging the kind of adult training and retraining courses which the community needs. Consider the problem of a professor in social sciences at a redbrick university who wants to organise courses in social sciences for the social administrators—local government officials, welfare workers, and so on—in his area. He has to persuade his colleagues to lecture on this kind of course. To do so he needs funds. This work is as academically important and challenging, leading to as interesting research as any that these people would find in the internal world of the university, but the professor needs to bring pressures to bear upon his colleagues to entice them into this wider field of work. Whether this is to be done by a modification of the sources of finance for universities, with vastly more contract work coming from outside, or whether it is to be done simply by pressure from the U.G.C., is a matter which the university world needs to discuss, but under the very active influence of outside bodies including Parliament.

I am sure that the House generally will recognise the expansionist mood that there is on both sides of the House with regard to higher education. One cannot help comparing the situation today with that during a previous period of financial stringency. One very much hopes that in the continuing battles with the Treasury which go on right throughout the year the expansion of education will be seen as a continuing high priority.

7.33 p.m.

Mr. Christopher Chataway (Lewisham, North)

The Secretary of State for Education and Science in his opening remarks chided my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Handsworth (Sir E. Boyle) with taking a more expansionist view today than he did in a speech in 1962 when he was Financial Secretary, a less expansionist view then than he took as Minister of Education. Perhaps it is fair to point out to the Secretary of State and to the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, West (Dr. Bray), who made a similar point just now, that we notice a considerable contrast between the expansionism of right hon. and hon. Members who were spokesmen for the Labour Party in the summer of last year and the attitudes of those who occupy the Government Front Bench now. The right hon. Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey), who made most of the categorical pledges in the summer of last year, is now banished to the Ministry of Land and Natural Resources looking after allotments. The Secretary of State cannot be altogether surprised if some of the bolder pledges which were then made are coming home to roost with him.

The Secretary of State has, I know, had strong representations, as have many hon. Members, from the National Union of Students, which wants to see the abolition of the means test. The union fairly points to what was said when the Anderson Report was being debated by hon. Members who now sit opposite, namely, that the means test would be immediately abolished if Labour came to power. We have always taken the view that it would be wrong to take that step in the near future. I think that the Robbins Committee is right in saying that ours is a university system which treats students in this respect more generously than most. I think that there may be a case in the very near future for revising those grants. I am sure that the National Union of Students will have noticed in a number of the speeches made today an attitude more critical of university expenditure or, at least from the hon. Members for Leeds, South (Mr. Merlyn Rees) and Hitchin (Mrs. Shirley Williams), a desire to ensure that we get full value for money from university expenditure.

Again, there was a considerable contrast between what the Secretary of State said today about the massive investment that is taking place in higher education and what was said in the Labour Party Manifesto about the need so urgently and enormously to step up investment in all forms of higher education.

To quote one short example, in adult education last summer some most surprising promises were made by the right hon. Gentleman who is now the Minister of Housing and Local Government. The Secretary of State cannot be surprised that the adult education world is not altogether overjoyed with the£60,000 increase he was able to announce the other day. Incidentally, if I may put the record straight, at Question Time the Secretary of State suggested that the grants for 1964–65 were held at the same level as the grants for 1963–64. It is true that we said in that year that we did not believe that the increased grants we were giving would enable a further expansion of work to take place, but the figures in fact show that, whereas grants in 1963–64 were running at just under£880,000, they were over£1 million for 1964–65. The record over the last 10 years for adult education shows a rise from some£390,000 to over £1 million. The increase that the Secretary of State has announced this year of£60,000 is less than the average increase over the last decade.

Throughout this short debate there has run a very strong interest in the non-university part of higher education. The truth is that the immediate post-Robbins era is not an altogether easy one for this sector of education. It was bound to be difficult, because institutions outside the university world must be conscious of the contrast between their own dependent position and the autonomous status of the universities. A number of hon. Members have pointed to this. In accepting the broad pattern of the Robbins recommendations, the last Government were always aware of the problems which would be posed for the non-university sector. It was always clear that, if there was too rigid a line of demarcation between those inside and those outside the favoured university circle, many students would suffer.

Two decisions by the present Government—we have supported both of them—have rendered all this more important. First, the Government have rejected the Robbins recommendations for the teacher training colleges. They are to remain with the local education authorities and are not to be brought within the sphere of the universities. Whatever the merits of that decision, and I think that on balance it was right, it was bound to bring disappointment to the teacher-training colleges and leave some of them with the feeling that they were to be left below the salt.

Secondly, the Government have announced that there are to be no new universities after the present batch within the next decade. This removes from the regional technical colleges a dream which many of them have had. Many of them over a period of years have looked forward to the possibility of evolving into colleges of advanced technology or else into universities. The House must be concerned to ensure that the Government are fully aware of the problems and will take all the steps they can to encourage technical and education colleges and the whole world of non-university education.

The former Secretary of State announced on 11th December that he was going to institute a review of the internal government of the education colleges. It has been already asked what has hap-happened to the review. I hope that we shall hear from the Minister of State, because it is now three months later and still no study group has been set up. This seems to be rather sluggish progress. One gathers that the Secretary of State's first proposals for the study group contained no members from the university world. This suggestion was therefore quite naturally not acceptable to representatives of teachers in the colleges and departments of education. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will be able to tell us that the Minister has had second thoughts about this. The previous Secretary of State went out of his way in his December statement to claim that, although he was rejecting the administrative arrangements proposed by the Robbins Committee, nevertheless he was anxious to accept the spirit of the Robbins Report and to ensure for the colleges the kind of status which the Robbins Report recommended.

It seems in these circumstances unreasonable to exclude university people from the review process. After all, they are among the most qualified to speak knowledgeably about the proper internal government of institutions of higher education. It is very reasonable therefore that those concerned with education colleges should want the advice of university people in working out these new arrangements. I do not think that there can be any decent arguments for excluding university teachers and vice-chancellors from this review. I hope that the Minister of State will tell us more about that this evening.

I want also to press upon the Government the idea of a similar review for the further education colleges. Local education authorities, in my experience, vary greatly in the way in which they administer their technical colleges and some ride them on a very close rein indeed. Further education colleges do a remarkable job. The way in which they have developed and expanded since the mid-1960s constitutes perhaps the most remarkable single feature of education expansion over the last ten years. I was interested in what the Secretary of State had to say about his own reaction to further education when he came to the Department.

It is true that not nearly enough is known about further education colleges, and I hope that the recent study of and improvement in their public relations will lead to a wider understanding on the part of other people in the education world. Many of these colleges cope with a bewildering variety of courses and levels of ability. Many of them are more comprehensive than any of the comprehensive American universities. At one end of the academic scale they provide, often with outstanding success, for children whose interests have never been engaged at school. These colleges have often provided for those children the first key that fits the door to educational advance. At the other end they cater for university level work.

At both ends, the technical colleges face some uncertainty today, and they are bound to do so. At one end they cannot be sure yet what will be the effects of raising the school-leaving age in the 1970s and at the other the post-Robbins world and the new Council for Academic Awards present them with a new prospect. If the colleges are not to feel too strongly the contrast between their own status and the position of universities—and the hon. Lady the Member for Hitchin urged strongly and effectively that we must seek to blur what could be very rigid distinctions in the Robbins set-up—some attention must urgently be given to the way in which these colleges are governed. There is no complaint from some at the way in which they are administered by their local education authorities, but there is elsewhere considerable frustration at some of the petty regulations under which they have to operate. Some heads of departments and principals do not have the freedom and discretion which they ought to have.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Handsworth has put forward the suggestion that the regional colleges and the area technical colleges should have statutory governing bodies. I am sure that this would be of help, and I hope that the Secretary of State will be considering that proposal. If the regional technical colleges are to attract and hold the quality of staff they need, the internal government of these colleges needs looking at in just the same way as the Secretary of State intends to look at the internal government of the colleges of education.

I should like to refer briefly to the decision which the Government have taken over numbers in the colleges of education. I think it a very strange procedure to announce figures for 1973 shortly in advance of a report from the National Advisory Council. If there are some reasons for urgency about this announcement that escape me I hope that the Minister of State will be able to point to them, but I find it difficult to believe that we need to know the figures at which the Government are aiming in 1973 with such urgency that we cannot wait for the Advisory Council's report. Still, that decision has been taken and all we can hope is that the Government will be prepared to look at it and review it in the light of whatever recommendations they receive from the Advisory Council.

I must comment, however, on one line of argument which the Secretary of State used in his speech today and which I have seen reported on occasions in the Press. He has argued that by announcing this 1973 figure, whereas the previous Government only announced the figure for 1970, he has somehow embarked upon a massive new expansion of teacher-training colleges. He has produced this piece of arithmetic to show that if the teacher-training colleges had been held throughout the 1970s at the figure which we intended to reach in 1970, that is 80,000, rather than increased in the way he suggests, we should have had larger classes in the mid-1980s than we shall have under his proopsals. The argument is unworthy of the right hon. Gentleman, and I hope that he will not produce it again. We might just as well work out what the size of classes would now be if the teacher-training colleges had been held at the latest figure announced by the Labour Government in 1951.

My right hon. Friend always made clear that, although we had announced figures up to 1970, in accepting the Robbins target of 390,000 for 1973–74, we accepted, of course, that teacher training colleges would go on expanding past 1970. The only reason why we did not announce target figures for later years was that it did not seem to be urgent to do so, and we were, of course, awaiting the report of the National Advisory Council. I hope that the Minister of State will be prepared to say that the Government will look again at these post-1970 figures in the light of the report.

I accept that no expansion of the teacher-training colleges will solve our difficulties. Expanding the teacher-training colleges is a long-term investment. It does not show any reduction in the size of classes at an early date. Nevertheless, as my right hon. Friend said, the plans which we laid for the early 1970s can have a substantial effect on class sizes in later years, and it may be, in view of our unhappy experience in recent years in that the birthrate has been rising so much, the wastage has been so much greater, and marriage has been so much earlier than we expected, that we are inclined to be over-pessimistic.

Mr. Merlyn Rees

What is so unhappy about that?

Mr. Chataway

Nothing at all. I am happy, except from the point of view of class sizes, which have been pushed up as a result. Of course, all the results of Conservative prosperity leading to a greater degree of social well being are cause for satisfaction, though, unfortunately, not from the point of view of class sizes. However, as I say, we may have been a little too pessimistic about the future. While I accept that no expansion of the teacher-training colleges can be a substitute for all the other actions, some of which were referred to in the debate, for reducing class sizes, I feel that we ought nevertheless to look carefully at the figures after we have the advice of the National Advisory Council.

7.52 p.m.

The Minister of State, Department of Education and Science (Mr. R. E. Prentice)

We have had a wide-ranging and most interesting debate in which a number of speakers have made important points. In some ways, I feel most gratitude to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland for having intervened. In the time I have been in the House, I have listened to a great many Scottish questions from both sides, but I never imagined that I should have to answer any of them, and I was in the dreadful position, at one stage today, of thinking that I might be called upon to do so. I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for having intervened and having relieved me of at least that duty.

As the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Handsworth (Sir E. Boyle) said, we ought to have debates of this kind from time to time. They can take place in a new context since the change of Ministerial responsibility relating to universities took place last year, and it seems a proper corollary of that change that there should be Parliamentary debates of this kind which, of course, need not in any way be inconsistent with academic freedom but which can range over the role of the universities and the relationship between the Government and the universities and between the universities and the community. We have made a good start with the debate we have just had. If I had any complaint about the debate at all, it would be that, on the whole, it was too peaceful and non-controversial, but, when the hon. Member for Lewisham, North (Mr. Chataway) began, he sailed in with a few controversial points, and it is to these that I shall react straight away, particularly to two of them.

The hon. Gentleman took us to task for our attitude on student grants and our failure to meet the wishes of the National Union of Students. He says that this is inconsistent with our past attitude, and that is just as well because, if our present attitude is under fire, so is the attitude of the previous Government as well. This question has already been raised at Question Time in recent weeks. On 18th March, my right hon. Friend said, in reply to a Question, that he considered that there were many other matters in education which had higher priority than removing the parents' contribution in respect of student grants, pointing out that it would at present cost about£18 million to abolish the parent's contribution.

I simply make the point that it is a question of priorities. Many of us have taken the view in the past—I have certainly taken it myself—that it would be good if the parent's contribution could be abolished, but this was not a feature of our election manifesto. It was a feature of a report on higher education to the Labour Party by a committee presided over by Lord Taylor, the foreword to which by the Prime Minister made clear that we were not committed to these items in detail. Therefore, this remains something on which many of us have our aspirations, as we have on so many aspects of education, but on which we have to have regard to the order of priorities in which, unfortunately, it cannot rate as high as we should like.

As the House may be aware, the current rate of award for student grants, which was fixed in 1962, are under review at present by the Standing Advisory Committee on Grants to Students. The Committee will be reporting to my right hon. Friend before long, and any changes which he accepts as a result of its recommendations will date from the beginning of the September term this year. Thus, the amount of awards is under review but the question of abolition must, I am afraid, wait while so many other things are dealt with.

The hon. Gentleman had a bit of fun about an alleged change of attitude on our part towards the need to expand in education. He thought that we had, as it were, been deflated by coming into office. What happened was really this. The relevant change of attitude occurred in hon. Members opposite in the 12 months or so before the last election. In so far as we condemn their concept of education as being too limited and too restrictive, we are attacking them on the record of 13 years. We quite appreciate that the death-bed repentances in which they indulged in the last 12 months brought them close to our policy. We congratulate them on coming close to our policy, though we do not congratulate them on the reasons. This was true of their introduction of the Industrial Training Act, a potentially great educational reform but a Measure which they introduced years after we had demanded it. The same is true of the new school-building programmes announced in October, 1963, and it is true of their acceptance of the Robbins Report which they accepted almost before they had had time to read it. They underwent a conversion to our policy, and this, presumably, is why the debate has been so non-controversial today.

I shall try now to reply to as many of the points raised as one reasonably can at a time when the House has many other matters to deal with between now and some much later hour. The hon. Lady the Member for Renfrew, East (Miss Harvie Anderson) raised an important point applying not only to Scotland but to the whole of Great Britain when she emphasised the need for more girls to qualify in science. We are very concerned about this, and I can tell the House that it is being considered along with the general questions of science and technology in the schools to which my right hon. Friend referred earlier. It is an aspect of the study which will be carried out by Professor Dainton, and I agree that it ought to be most carefully considered.

There is some danger here that the schools are made a scapegoat for failures in society to offer opportunities to girls who train as scientists or in related subjects. There are not the career prospects for girls well trained in science that there should be. Therefore, changes in attitude have to occur in that sense as well, perhaps, as changes in the schools and colleges to cope with this problem.

My hon. Friend the Member for Hitchin (Mrs. Shirley Williams) raised a number of points relating to teacher supply. I would not like to go into detail on everything she and other hon. Members said about teacher supply because my right hon. Friend is considering now the terms of a statement that he will be making in a few weeks time. But perhaps there are one or two points on which I could usefully comment. One is the question of education authorities employing part time teachers.

The Department has been taking steps for some time to try to encourage the wider employment of part time teachers by local education authorities and there has been a very welcome increase in their number in the past few years. Our inquiries show a considerable variation, however, in the performances of education authorities in this matter. A recent survey showed the methods that are being used by a number of education authorities that have a good record in this respect and these results have been drawn together in a document which will be made public in order that their good example will be drawn to the attention of other local education authorities. We shall be following this up as far as we can.

There is variation not only between local education authorities but between the attitudes of some head teachers towards the employment of part timers. We want to discourage the attitude adopted by some head teachers who would rather put up with the teacher shortage than face the problems which sometimes arise in fitting part timers into the timetable.

My hon. Friend the Member for Hitchin also mentioned, in discussing part-timers, the provision of nursery classes. I remind her that, last year, the Department sent out a circular containing a very important modification in the general ban on the provision of nursery schools and nursery classes. The circular indicated that the Department would welcome the provision of nursery classes in existing buildings where it would lead to a net addition to the teaching force. In other words, taking account of the fact that the nursery class itself requires a teacher, if the number of children of teachers attending the class is such that there is a net addition, however small, to the teaching force, then we encourage such a class. We want to follow this up with another circular asking how the modification in the earlier circular has been used and reminding the local authorities of our attitude.

Sir E. Boyle

Has the hon. Gentleman any idea how many authorities so far have taken advantage of the circular? The last figure I heard, when the election was taking place, was eight authorities—or at least three or four certainly and a possible four others. Has the hon. Gentleman any more recent information?

Mr. Prentice

My impression is that it is a larger number but it is only an impression. I will provide the right hon. Gentleman with the figure. It is an important matter. We are trying to get information on it at the moment, and it may well be that our information is not complete just now.

My hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, South(Mr. Merlyn Rees) raised a number of very important points, the main one relating to the accountability of the universities in matters of finance and the need for them to use their resources fully. He described, rightly, the universities as a major industry with the duty, like any other major industry, to use its resources efficiently. I do not think that I need remind him that the Estimates and Public Accounts Committees are considering this matter now. He himself is a member of the Estimates Committee. We will be studying their reports.

Certainly we share the view that value for money is an extremely important principle. Equally, I need hardly reiterate that we stand by the principle of academic freedom. The task of the Government is to reconcile these two principles. It would be fair to add that our impression is that the majority of vice-chancellors are conscious of the problem and are doing their best to get value for money in every possible way.

My hon. Friend also asked about the role that could be played in teacher training by extramural classes, arranged by universities, the W.E.A. and other bodies. He may not be aware that this is a factor taken into account already by principals of teacher training colleges in their power to remit part of the teacher training period. Whereas the normal period is three years, the principal has authority to remit perhaps one or two years of this period in relation to relevant experience or relevant education—and that certainly includes the type of course to which my hon. Friend referred.

My hon. Friend also asked about research. I am glad he did so. It is useful to draw attention to the fact that the research effort of the Department has increased in recent years. The answer to his question on how to get a project considered is simple. We should be glad to hear in writing, with as much detail as possible, of any worth-while proposal which could be considered and I am glad to point this out to him and others with ideas about various problems.

My hon. Friend also raised the question of the training of administrators in further education. Again, I am glad that he drew attention to this. I myself am glad of the opportunity to draw attention to the very good work being done at the Further Education Staff College in Somerset, where training courses of all kinds are arranged for people in technical colleges and other colleges of further education and also for training officers in industry. Courses recently have included study conferences for principals of colleges of education and I am informed that over half the principals in the country have attended now a series of study conferences on the administration of their colleges, which, I think, was the very point my hon. Friend had in mind.

Perhaps I may comment on two points raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Middlesbrough, West(Dr. Bray) in his very interesting speech. He drew attention to the need for manpower statistics to be available in a more sophisticated form. I know of his interest and knowledge of this subject. He and I worked together on a committee on it when we were in Opposition and I am sure that he is right in the importance he attaches to the problem.

There is a need within Government for more sophisticated methods of manpower forecasting and manpower budgeting. This again is one of those things that have developed in recent years. If I were being controversial, I would say that this is another suggestion by the Labour Party which the late Government took up very late in their term of office. But there is an effort going on in the Ministry of Labour which needs developing on a much wider scale and the Government are paying attention to it. My right hon. Friend takes a great interest in the subject and is studying it in relation to higher education.

My hon. Friend the Member for Middlesbrough, West, was absolutely right in drawing attention to the social effects of the spread of higher education. It would be fair to say that here he was posing questions rather than providing answers. I think that most of us are still in that position. I think that, as we spread educational opportunity, as it grows and as the methods of applying such opportunity become more efficient so that people no longer miss the bus by accident on the scale that they used to, society as a whole will have enormous problems to cope with.

We may be in some danger of moving from the old forms of class distinction and snobbery into forms of intellectual snobbery and other forms which may be more cruel than the old distinctions. The man at the bottom of the ladder will no longer be able to say that he never had a chance. He will probably have had his chance but did not use it.

Mr. Kenneth Lewis (Rutland and Stamford)

Surely this is a dangerous argument. The quality of the education is involved. The Scots have always had an attitude to education which has been much more beneficent than the English. If quality of education is present, then the fact that there is a great spread of education will break down class barriers, but it will not set out to base itself on intellectual class barriers. Education is more than the provision of professional or even intellectual qualifications.

Dr. Bray

Is not Scotland a very interesting example of a community which has not been able to absorb its own educational product?

Mr. Prentice

I am glad to have sparked off this discussion. Of course I was not suggesting that the spread of education opportunity was something to be regretted. Of course I accept that it breaks down barriers. I was merely suggesting that it could also create new barriers and new difficulties and that we had to be aware of this and think deeply about it and try to find the answers to these problems. I am in exactly the same position as my hon. Friend the Member for Middlesbrough, West in merely posing the questions rather than providing the answers. I suspect that many of the answers may simply lie within ourselves and the attitude which we take to each other and the need for greater tolerance and greater mutual respect, recognising everyone we meet as probably better than we are at something or other and respecting him for that. But so far as there are social answers, we are still groping for them and I suggest that the House ought to return to this problem from time to time.

I should like to say a word or two about the colleges of education and first about the target figures announced by my right hon. Friend. He said when he announced our targets for 1973 that he would be receiving a report of the National Advisory Council and that he would consider it and any recommendations. In a sense, of course, this involves a consideration of the target figures for any particular year. Nevertheless, it seemed to him and the Government at that time that the answers were due, and perhaps overdue, to a number of problems which were raised by the Robbins Committee and that that consideration applied not merely to the figures for the teacher-training colleges, or the colleges of education in 1973, but to a number of other things—the question of the SISTERs and other outstanding questions, and that it would be of value to everyone in education to give our answers to these questions as we saw them at the moment.

I would have thought in all these questions of target figures of students, for all sorts of reasons, many raised in the debate, that these were things liable to change over the years. Nevertheless, there has to be a medium term and a slightly longer term view at any time in order that policies can be fitted in with targets.

I should like to comment on the questions of other hon. Members about the administration of the colleges of education, because here we are faced with two relevant recommendations of the Robbins Committee. The first is that for selected students there should be four-year courses leading to a degree which would have the full status of a university degree, but for which study would have incorporated appropriate vocational training. The other recommendation was that the colleges should have independent governing bodies outside local authorities and that these should be federated with the university institutes of education. As the House knows, the Government accepted the first and did not accept the second recommendation.

In accepting the first, we took the view that the links between the universities and the colleges ought to be strengthened, and I can tell the House that there are now discussions between the institutes of education and the colleges, discussions which we hope will be fruitful in this respect. This will not be a process likely to produce quick results, but we hope that there will be coming into the system within a reasonable time a new source of graduate teachers who will take the kind of degree which is envisaged in the Robbins Report. There is the task of reconciling the problem of effective vocational training with academic training leading to a proper degree in the university sense without the whole process taking too long. It is not a simple matter, but it is now under discussion.

We had a number of considerations in mind in not accepting the other recommendation. The Government took the view that local education authorities had a vital rôle in teacher supply and in discharging that rôle over the years had founded colleges and administered colleges, on the whole successfully. I take the view that sometimes some unhappy examples of clumsy administration by local authorities cause people to generalise and to attack local authority control in general. I would have thought that this was a respect in which, as in so many others, local democracy usually worked well and where bad examples were matters which could be tackled within the context that the general record was successful.

We also had to take account of the fact that university opinion on the subject was divided and that not all universities wanted to have these colleges under their umbrella. We also had to take account of the fact that programmes of teacher supply and teacher training must be publicly accountable to a degree not easy to reconcile with the traditional academic freedom of the universities. All those reasons influenced us in making this decision.

At the same time, we recognised that there was a case for looking at the internal administration of these colleges and seeing to what extent difficulties could he ironed out. On that I can tell the House that there have already been a number of preliminary talks of a fairly informal character among local education authorities and the teachers in the colleges and the voluntary bodies concerned. These talks are now to take the form of a study group which will take place within my Department, which is to provide the facilities for it and the chairmanship of the group. On the study group will be represented the L.E.A.s and the A.T.C.D.E., which is the organisation for the teachers in the training colleges, and the voluntary bodies. The universities' views will be welcome and they will be asked to come in and talk with the study group, but it was felt on balance to be better that the universities should not actually be members of the study group itself. That was the view of both the local authorities and the Government.

This is essentially a matter in which the internal administration could be improved and is therefore primarily a matter between the authorities who run the colleges and the people who work in them, but of course they will welcome the views of the universities and others who may have a view to express.

Sir E. Boyle

May I ask the hon. Gentleman one question on that? I am very grateful to him for being so informative about the subject, but can he say whether the universities are prepared to take part on that basis and are ready not to be members of the group, but to come in and give evidence, as it were? Have they expressed their willingness to follow this procedure?

Mr. Prentice

The answer is that many would have preferred to take part, but it is difficult to give a precise answer, because when one speaks of the universities it is difficult to know whether one is speaking of vice-chancellors or institutes, and they do not necessarily have an identity of view. We hope and expect that university opinion in general will accept this solution and will be willing to give evidence on that basis, although there will be some resentment that the other approach was not used.

Mrs. Shirley Williams

I know that this is a very difficult topic to discuss and I am glad that my hon. Friend is being so informative, but can he say whether the Department will give consideration to the very small L.E.A.s who are one instance from which the examples to which he was referring earlier have sometimes come?

Mr. Prentice

Yes. That is a proper study for the study group. It would be fair to say that within the L.E.A.s and the associations of local authorities and the associations of education committees there would be a general view among those who take a leading part that they will want to bring the less satisfactory authorities up to the standards of the others. This is a view which they share, as well as being the view of the Department.

This afternoon we have been discussing a programme of rapid expansion which has many problems, and within this expansion there are a number of borderline problems and priority problems. There are arguments about the proper rôle and the relative importance of various parts of the higher education service and it is worth reminding ourselves that we are considering an expansion of the whole range, an expansion of the older universities to take in larger numbers, a vast expansion with new universities over what was originally expected, the creation of new types of universities with the colleges of advanced technology and a very large expansion of colleges of education and an expansion of higher education within the further education in the technical colleges and so on. It is of importance and significance that a number of hon. Members have drawn attention to the relevance of this to our economy and the need to modernise the industrial, commercial and professional life of this country. Account is being taken of all this, I think—hon. Members may differ as to the extent of it —within the expansion programme.

The hon. Member for Devizes(Mr. Charles Morrison) raised two matters of great importance. The application of automation and, in particular, the introduction of computers and that kind of development in industry is reflected as part of the expansion programme. As the House knows, my right hon. Friend the Minister of Technology, on 1st March, announced a review of university computer requirements to be carried out by the U.G.C. and the Council for Scientific Policy to draw up a five-year purchasing programme.

The other matter to which the hon. Gentleman referred was management education. I think that he was on the right lines. The two specialised schools for management studies within the universities both expect to take their first students in the autumn of this year. One school is in London, the other in Manchester. I agree with the hon. Gentleman that this should spark off a greater expansion of management education in this country. There is already provision in the colleges of various kinds, much of which is still under-subscribed. This is a serious reflection on the attitude of management to this matter.

I should like to see the attitude of management towards further education approximate, in some ways, more closely to that of the Armed Forces. I was in the Army for 4¼ years. I did not have a very good time, but one thing which I remember happily is the extent to which, in the Army and other Armed Forces, it is considered proper for people at various stages in their career to go on courses and be retrained. In too much of British industry it is still a sign of weakness if a man asks permission to go on a course. This attitude must change radically. We need an extension of trained professional people, from the errand boy to the managing director—particularly the managing director, if only to train him to have an influence on the people whom he employs.

Another point relevant to this theme is the emphasis given by my right hon. Friend and other speakers to the importance in the colleges of advanced technology to their keeping their technological rôle and not becoming—if I may put this in quotes—"too academic". Of course, they will have what my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, South called an academic tang. But the sandwich courses, in particular, should continue and should be expanded as part of the growth of education and of industrial training in the years ahead.

Here I should like to add one point arising out of what has been said. One weakness is that many of the colleges have wanted to do more and have found that industry has not been prepared to play its part, or a sufficient part, in the sandwich course arrangements. I hope that the new machinery of the Industrial Training Act will be used in this connection. The powers of the Industrial Training Board are relevant to this. They should be used for training at this level as well as other levels. They can provide that lever which will encourage firms to play a greater rôle in the provision of sandwich courses.

Continuing with this theme, there is the question of the future of the technical colleges. The hon. Member for Lewisham, North suggested that we should have a study made of their future and their administration similar to that which we are undertaking for the colleges of education. This is a matter which we have under review. My right hon. Friend is about to initiate discussions on this with the national representative bodies concerned. This is not a precisely parallel exercise to the exercise on the colleges of education, although it will include considerations of the way in which the colleges are administered as well as their rôle in the provision of education.

I would simply like to add this point—again it is in line with what was said by my hon. Friends the Members for Durham, North-West(Mr. Armstrong) and Leeds, South and other hon. Members—that in these colleges, whereas we want to see the higher education part of their programme expand, we also want to see every other part of their programme expand. In some colleges there is an over-preoccupation with status. In the ambition of the principals of colleges to do more degree work and more higher work of various kinds, some of them may be tempted to jettison the other useful work which they do. This is an attitude which we should not encourage, because we want to see the whole of further education expand.

The exciting and worth-while aspect of further education is that it provides a spectrum of education. Those who go to the technical colleges for one type of course may find doors opening for other types of course. The apprentice going in for day release at 16 years of age may come into contact with evening classes on all kinds of subjects which may open up interests which may last him for the rest of his life. These are some of the most exciting aspects of the education pattern. We want to see the whole spectrum of further education expand to a very large extent in the years ahead.

The words "expand" and "expansion" have occurred several times in speeches today. We should make no apology for this. This is an exciting period of educational development in which all of us have to ensure that the expansion takes effect in the right way and as rapidly as possible. Many of the things which we are doing are years overdue. I make this point against the attitudes of people in authority, industry, the universities, educational administration, the local authorities, and so on. As a nation, we have not had a large enough or good enough programme. Now we must have a mood of impatience in which we are prepared to go forward and expand higher education and all aspects of education at a faster rate than ever before.