HC Deb 03 November 1966 vol 735 cc645-6
27. Mr. Edward M. Taylor

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what information he has regarding the numbers of young people who were unable to obtain entrance to British universities this autumn although possessing the appropriate qualifications; and if he will give comparable figures for the Scottish universities separately.

Mr. Crosland

This information is not available in the form requested, but the results of applications for entrance to universities this autumn will be published in the Fourth Report of the Universities Central Council on Admissions in the next few months.

Mr. Taylor

When does the Minister anticipate that university places available in this country will be adequate to cope reasonably with demand? Dealing with Scotland, does he agree that there is a need for a further university in the Highlands, and one on the Border? Is there any prospect of this coming about?

Mr. Crosland

It is impossible to answer the first part of the hon. Member's Question because there is no agreed definition of what "appropriate qualifications" mean. These differ as between different courses and subjects. As to the second part of the Question, I cannot agree that under present circumstances such a proposition would be practicable. On the major matter, what is really important to the country is what is actually occurring, that more and more people should be entering universities every year.

Mr. Rankin

Leaving the present circumstances aside, will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that the demand for a university at Inverness is of long standing and will be repeated when the appropriate occasion arises?

Mr. Crosland

I have to keep in mind present circumstances as well. Nevertheless, I am aware that this part of the country, like many other parts, has for a long time had a great desire for a new university. We said last year, and I am sure that this was right, on grounds of practical policy, that for a period of a few years we could not consider more universities in addition to the 44 that we already have.

Sir E. Boyle

With regard to the first part of my hon. Friend's supplementary question, is it not already clear that, if university standards are to be maintained, future university building programmes must be based on the assumption that the Robbins Committee under-rated the demand for places?

Mr. Crosland

It is certainly true, and I have said it more than once in the House, that the Robbins Committee, on its own criteria, underestimated the demand for places. As for what this will mean in terms of university building programmes, it is too early to say. I must remind the right hon. Gentleman that the last Report of the U.G.C., issued only very recently, showed that during the period under consideration university standards had been steadily increasing.