HC Deb 18 November 1965 vol 720 cc1326-7
36. Mr. Bryant Godman Irvine

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science why his decision to cancel the bachelor of science degree course in applied physics at the Woolwich Polytechnic was not conveyed to the students for five weeks after he was aware that the number who had enrolled for the course was one below the required minimum.

Mr. Prentice

The course started on 27th September. Until a late stage there was some doubt whether the minimum numbers would be achieved. When it became clear that the number of firm enrolments was only five, the Inner London Education Authority submitted an appeal for exceptional approval for the course to continue. My Department received this appeal on 19th October and gave the Authority their decision orally within a few days, confirming it by letter on 28th October. All the students have now been accommodated in other courses.

Mr. Godman Irvine

Would the Minister not agree that this discloses a situation at which he should have another look? These young people were spending six weeks getting ready to start a new course. Just as they are getting satisfied with the work they are doing they are told they cannot go on. Is that right?

Mr. Prentice

I agree with the hon. Member that it would have been better if the course had never started. I gather that the Inner London Education Authority was in some doubt about the numbers and about student options after the course started. That is what led to this particular situation.