HC Deb 05 June 1967 vol 747 cc578-97

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.—[Mr. Fitch.]

11.35 a.m.

Mr. Lewis Carter-Jones (Eccles)

I am glad of the opportunity of raising a matter which has concerned me for some considerable time as an ex-university lecturer and one who has had considerable correspondence on the government of our universities and its impact on students. It is obvious that from time to time students will feel indignation. Therefore, one has to be careful about how to take the observations they make, but when carefully considered observations are made indicating that there is something seriously lacking in our universities, I think it time that Parliament brought some attention to them.

I am raising this matter primarily because I understand that new charters are now being provided and certain charters are being redrafted. Consequently, the advice of the Minister is being sought. Therefore, on the basis of past experience and justifiable complaints, future charters ought to contain additional provisions to protect both academic standards and students' rights. This is absolutely essential. Universities are the highest centres of learning. They are the holders of everything which we value in the academic field. I take second place to no one in supporting the work done by the universities and the University Grants Committee, but the universities must not mistakenly defend reaction, inefficiency and muddle. In university life there is much too much which is open to question.

I shall deal with four particular aspects of the problem: first, the question of the standard of instruction or lecturing given to students; secondly, the relationship between the student, the parent and the university, particularly in regard to examinations; thirdly, the fields in which I think there should be greater student participation in the government universities; and, fourthly, the problems faced by students when they are alleged to be in breach of discipline.

I hope that no one in the universities will attack me for undermining their academic freedom. It is the universities themselves which have decided that lectures shall be the order of the day. It is the universities which have decided that seminars and tutorials shall be held. In no way do I want to interfere with the way in which they organise this work, but they ought to make quite sure, having decided that this is the method by which they are to impart knowledge to students, that the work is properly carried out.

There are large numbers of university lecturers and university staff who carry out an absolutely first-rate job of work, but, unfortunately, there are all too many who are guilty of slipshod, inaccurate, dog-eared, mumbled types of lectures which show no preparation whatever. I have been told by many students that it is no wonder they stay away from lectures as they are so badly prepared and delivered. This is not a defence of academic freedom. Anyone who produces inferior work at the universities, which should be the centres of high standards, deserves our condemnation. This is something which the universities themselves must put right.

The standards of imparting knowledge to students will probably improve when students have a greater say in the running of the universities.

I am not suggesting that universities should be taken over by students or that the university government should be dominated by students. I am merely saying that they should be given a reasonable amount of discussion control, and power. They have a contribution to make which the university itself ought to recognise.

When it comes to sustaining academic integrity a student can quickly become disillusioned because he expects high standards from his lecturers and professors and administrators. Unfortunately this is not always true. Those who try to achieve high standards deserve high honour in our society, and we must guard those standards and that high honour. If something goes wrong within the walls of the university they ought to take immediate steps to rectify it. If in the future things go wrong, the Charter ought to provide for public pronouncement of that which has gone wrong.

It has been drawn to my attention recently that certain examinations which took place last June at Aston University in the Industrial Relations Department were open to question in that the examinations were not conducted as well as they ought to have been. There was good cause for complaint, and complaints were made in June of last year. The university admitted there were errors and they promised to set up a select committee. They did this, and from 12th October to this date there has been glorious silence. I do not believe that any university should hide behind the concept of forgetfulness or sub judice. This is no substitute for honest academic integrity. Something went wrong and the university owed it to its students to reveal what went wrong.

The third field in which I am vitally interested is the right of the student to participate in the government of the university at the highest level. Let me repeat that the university ought not to be run by the students, but at the same time I would argue that the students have a right to active participation in the running of the university itself.

These are young people who are on the threshold of adult life. They are some of our better brains, people of great intellect, and very shortly after leaving the walls of the university they have to accept responsible positions. They take over responsible jobs and many of them become responsible for teaching the young. If the university denies them the right to participate actively in self-government then it is no wonder that sometimes they get turned out from these places of learning without adequate experience of Government.

I do not think that they are asking for a great deal. They are asking for that which many of us would say was a minimum right. I would have thought that in future charters the Minister could strongly advise and recommend that students should be given a much greater say in the running of the affairs of the university.

Sir Eric Ashby, when he talked about students, said: The student must have expert knowledge. That is what he gets from his lectures and laboratories. He must also have the confidence which comes from participation in community living. That is what he gets from belonging, as a co-equal, to a society of Chancellor. Masters and Scholars. Unfortunately, all too often our students are denied the right to participate in this way.

My hon. Friend the Minister of State, who is to reply to the debate, and I were both educated at the University of Wales. It is rather surprising that some of the rights we possessed in our early days before we took on our grey hairs are still being denied to some of the students of our universities today—ordinary, simple, elementary rights. Students were allowed to associate quite freely in our university and yet today in this country we have a situation of responsible young men and women being denied these rights.

It is also highly significant that where students are given rights one tends to get the best type of relationship between the staff and the students. I do not think that this is a paradox. I believe that responsibility begets responsibility and that experience has shown the ability of students and others to make a greater contribution to the wellbeing of the country as a whole. I would ask the Minister to consider very strongly indeed extending the powers and the rights of students.

One other thing I ought to mention is that Ministries and universities tend to have a good method of shelving good reports without acting upon them. I would commend—I have every right since I was sent a copy—that the Department of Education reads again the Hale Report on University Teaching Methods. It will find within this report much that is good. I would urge that in future charters the universities should take account of the teaching methods and criticisms which are made of them in that report.

In conclusion, I should like to refer to the rights of a student when he is being disciplined. I cannot do better than refer to an article by David Gourlay, in The Guardian. He talks about the difficulties which arise and about university responsibility for disciplining students. He says: The main points of discussion involved a student's right to be informed of charges against him,"— this is ordinary common justice— his right of adequate representation, his right of appeal against sentence, and the guarantee that whoever chairs the first disciplinary court shall not occupy the chair or any subsequent chair of an appeal committee. He is asking for ordinary, straightforward, common-or-garden justice. Many universities following the experience of Glasgow University appear to have realised with shock that their procedures, although previously considered 'traditionally adequate', were not necessarily consistent with principles of natural justice. The universities ought to be the guardians of natural justice and they ought not to deny it to their students. It is the organisation which represents students—the National Union of Students—which has asked for the following code of discipline to be built into every charter. They are straightforward simple human rights: first, there shall be an advance notice of the charges. This is reasonable. Secondly, they should be represented at any proceedings. This, again, is straightforward, ordinary justice. They should have the right to call witnesses in their defence and they should have the right to cross-examine those who bring the charges.

I urge my hon. Friend to consider these requests most carefully. They are the requests of reasonable people. If these young men and women are to go into life, the products of our universities, inadequately trained to accept responsibility, the universities have no one to blame but themselves.

I greatly admire all the work that the universities have done, but they must not be reactionary in the matter of allowing students the ordinary, decent rights which are allowed to others.

11.50 a.m.

Mr. John P. Mackintosh (Berwick and East Lothian)

I want to comment on some of the excellent points which have been raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Eccles (Mr. Carter-Jones). There is a danger in the British community in treating the universities, as we constantly do, as a totally special and isolated element in our institutional structure for higher learning.

I do not take this matter too seriously, but my hon. Friend said that the universities are our special custodians of research and of high standards; but it must be remembered that there are research institutions outwith the universities which do a tremendous amount of the higher level academic work and that there are many institutions—technical colleges and colleges of education—that teach people to teach and teach people to do all sorts of things and which are quite as high in their standards as that which goes on in universities.

I have often been bothered at the tendency to attribute two different standards of accountability, the right to look after their own affairs, to the universities and to other institutions. It is time we began to look upon universities more as part of a large spectrum of organisations conducting the teaching and the research and stopped giving them this very peculiar privileged position which has led to much of the difficulty in thinking out how they should fit into our educational and social pattern.

From this it is reasonably argued, as I have always argued, that there should be accountability by the universities, because they spend large sums of public money, because they fit into a broad pattern, because they turn people out who go into our society, because they are maintained by public money, because they draw people from the schools. The universities are in a whole chain of the training of people's human experience in certain walks of life, going through from the schools to their ultimate activities.

It is wrong that a particular sector should be singled out and left less accountable than schools, than professional associations, the bodies who produce the young men and women before they go to the universities and which take them on after they leave. This is an anomaly. It stems from a confusion between intellectual freedom, which we would all defend—I would defend it to the last—and the question of how public money should be spent on organising the provision of teaching of research, which is quite another matter.

I often think that oligarchial methods of government are defended in the universities on the quite erroneous grounds that these have something to do with intellectual freedom, the right to pursue one's own researches, the right to train one's students and tell them what one believes to be the truth on any particular academic subject.

I come on to the point raised by my hon. Friend about the standards of teach- ing. I agree that much rather poor teaching goes on in Britain, not merely in the universities. This is a very difficult problem indeed to handle. It is one of those matters about which one must be fairly brutal. A great deal of the standard of performance depends on the incentive. While university teachers tend to be hired for many virtues, their teaching capacity is not usually one of them; it is not usually something which is rated very highly.

When teaching has been important to university teachers, they have shown that they can perform as well in this field as well as in any other. Years ago the Scottish universities used to remunerate their professors by allowing them to charge a fee of all who took their classes. The result was that the better the lecturer was the more people went to his classes and the higher his fee. The professors then insisted on taking the first-year class, because it was the largest class, with the most students, and the professors performed so well that large numbers of students flocked to hear their lectures. The professors stood at the door and collected the fees as the students entered.

I am not suggesting any particularly crude method of this kind now, but it shows that when the universities were organised in this way a tremendous premium was put on good lecturing. When I taught in an American university the students conducted a popularity poll in a very serious fashion as to which department or professor or lecturer did a very good job, who performed well and who stimulated his students. The department that did well took great pride in ensuring that its new products could lecture.

When I was there, due to one or two other arrivals besides myself, the standard of the department slipped. We became second in the popularity poll. Immediately this was realised, I saw a large lecture hall where the junior members of the lecturing staff of the department took it in turns on the rostrum, while the senior members said, "No, you are inaudible. I cannot hear you from the back row. Speak up. That diagram was too small. The illustration you gave was not clear."This went on until they "revved up" the standard of their own department and got back to the top of the ratings.

Nobody wants to be cheap about this. However, no teaching is given to university lecturers on how to teach. Not a great deal of attention is paid by those who are really good at the craft to showing others. It is almost regarded as an impertinence for a senior to go and hear a junior member of the department lecture. It is regarded as an impertinence to suggest that he cannot be heard from the back row because he is mumbling into his notes.

I myself would not lay much stress on student advice in this matter, because I concede that some of the greatest teachers have been bad teachers. Some of the greatest teachers have stimulated people when one would not have expected them to do so. However, I would expect the heads of universities and the heads of university departments to take a more general interest in the capacity of their staff to teach and help them to overcome what are often elementary defects which can be corrected by a little advice and a little suggestion from those with more experience.

I am very much in agreement with my hon. Friend on the question of charters and student discipline rights. On the question of discipline particularly, one or two principles can be laid down which I would like to see embodied in university practice. What bothers me most is when universities set out to try people for offences which are not necessarily offences according to the law of the land and to punish them; because sending a student down is usually the ultimate punishment.

This is the kind of punishment which denies a man the right to practise as a doctor for the rest of his life. It denies a man the right to be a lawyer or a teacher. It takes away from him much more than a two months' prison sentence or some such sentence would, which might be lived down later. It takes away from somebody the whole right to carry on a certain type of livelihood in a speciality.

In these circumstances, I am doubtful when tribunals of people, whose expertise is in quite another field—an academic field—determine to try people, especially when the offences would not be offences according to the normal law of the land. I suggest that university charters should provide that for all things which are offences before the normal law university authorities hand over the student to the police.

This is often regarded with horror in university circles. I have listened to university professors at disciplinary committees saying, with hands held up in horror, "This would be a disaster. This would be frightful. We do not want our people to go before normal courts". I do not agree with this. These students are citizens. They are adults. If they have broken the law, they should face the consequences.

The second point about it is that often the police courts are much kinder in the last resort. One or two of the recent rather unpleasant university cases have been cases which the university concerned proceeded with after the police had said that there was not anything on which they, the police, had grounds for prosecution. This was particularly so with the Glasgow students' case. The case was handed over to the police. They said that there was not enough evidence to proceed. Then the university went ahead on its own. This was one of the reasons why I think that the university got landed in very acute difficulties. Universities should confine themselves in their disciplinary activities to what I would call academic offences, which are things like not working properly, not turning up, and cheating at examinations.

For things of this kind, where there are offences which are contrary to the nature of the institutions, I still think that for these offences a procedure should be laid down which accords with natural justice and allows for an appeal to a normal court on the question.

Only in this way can one safeguard oneself from the rather claustrophobic atmosphere which one gets in institutions where people find themselves being tried not merely for a specific offence, but for their general reputation and the fact that they have been troublemakers. The fact that there have been stories about them tends to creep into people's minds; it is hard to keep it out when one is in a small institution, and often evidence or innuendo lurks about in this kind of trial which would not be considered in an outside independent court, trying someone simply for the prescribed offence before it.

One could lay down quite a reasonable code of discipline, which would say that any offence against the normal law of the land must be tried by the courts. Students would welcome this, and it would put their position very clearly. If there was a "Rag Week" and there was some violence, or a small offence committed, the student in question might be cautioned or fined, or might be imprisoned for a short period. Then he could go back to his work, graduate, and go through life in the normal fashion, wiser and perhaps better behaved. It would be much more serious for him to go before a university court and be deprived of his right to go on with his career, to be sent down for a year, when this would mean his being unable to sit his finals and graduate.

This would lead to a clear-cut procedure which would strip the universities of that irresistible tendency among small corporate bodies, which are continually dishing out advice to people, to believe that in some curious way they know better what is good for young people than the students themselves. There is this tendency always to take on moral offences, to take on things not really punishable by the normal courts.

How could all of this be embodied as students' rights? In this case, the Scottish universities provide a good example, in the concept of the rights of the students' council. I see no reason why this should not be incorporated in subsequent councils. The students could have the right to organise, hold elections and have a representative body. This body could have stated statutory rights to be consulted on all matters concerning status to give their opinions, but not to have powers to enforce them.

I would distinguish between consultative and executive power. One wants to build this into university affairs. In my experience of over 20 years with Scottish universities, the system has produced people who have been most responsible. Quite a number of hon. Members went through this training. On the whole, the people who became president of students' representative councils and President of the Union have gone on to show that they have been leaders in other spheres and responsible members of the community.

We would welcome this. A lot of the trouble that we have recently had would decline if principals and authorities in universities established a better relationship with students' leaders. Although I support the students' case in this way, theirs is only part of the right to be consulted. A university works through a number of groups. It works through its senior and junior staff and its students. In some cases one might say that its administration plays a distinct part in total policy-making. All of these four elements have their rights and each has a rôle to play. Clearly, some have a directing rôle and others an advisory rôle. One can arrange for this in the charters.

In the last resort I come back to my first point—none of this is a substitute for an element of public accountability for the total position of the universities in our educational structure.

12.5 p.m.

The Minister of State, Department of Education and Science (Mr. Goronwy Roberts)

My hon. Friend the Member for Eccles (Mr. Carter-Jones) has raised a question of very great interest, and he has been joined in a most informative and stimulating speech by my other hon. Friend the Member for Berwick and East Lothian (Mr. Mackintosh). It is right that we should debate this matter although, for reasons which I shall give a little later on, I must make it clear that in these matters, rightly in my judgment, there are severe limits on Ministerial responsibility. Nevertheless, I think that some of what I have to say will prove reasonably encouraging to my hon. Friends and others who I know are concerned about this vital matter. It is a matter on which strong feelings have sometimes been expressed, and it is important to try to hold the balance between the various points of view: the point of view of the student, the point of view of the academic authorities, who have the heavy responsibility of running the vast organisations constituted by a modern university, and the point of view of the community at large.

Any discussion of the government of recently created universities inevitably centres round the drafting and granting of their charters, a process which, as my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State indicated in his statement on 9th May, has now been virtually completed, at least with regard to institutions for which university status is at present contemplated. It is right here that I should point out that it is not possible to alter charters already granted unless the university concerned voluntarily petitions for such alteration. There is no legislation whereby amendments can be forced upon a university, and indeed I think any such legislation would be undesirable, defeating the whole concept upon which charters are granted.

It is fitting therefore that I should confine my remarks to the arrangements for granting charters and to facts as to the provisions they make regarding students and their affairs, and that I should refrain from comment on the merits of provisions in existing charters or on the question of whether these might, with advantage be amended. It will be appropriate, too, that I should limit myself to fairly recent history—to the granting of charters to our distinguished new technological universities, formerly known as C.A.T.s—the colleges of advanced technology—and the central institutions in Scotland, which were the subject of my right hon. Friend's statement on 9th May.

May I take a little time in outlining the process of granting a charter. In the first place, the granting of a charter with its associated statutes, to a new university falls within the Royal Prerogative, following on a petition from the body desiring incorporation. Amendment of an existing charter, in accordance with its provisions regarding amendment, is subject to the approval of Her Majesty the Queen in Council or the Privy Council following, likewise, on an application from the chartered body.

From the side of the new university, the charter would normally be drafted by an Academic Advisory Committee. The members of this committee, appointed by the governing body of the college, in consultation with the University Grants Committee, would be people of academic distinction, well-practised in university affairs, who could be depended on for expert judgments of what would be desirable and practicable in a new university's constitution. A petition for the charter would then be formally lodged, and would be referred by Her Majesty the Queen to a Committee of the Privy Council for its consideration and report.

Notice of that is published in the London Gazette and, in the case of Scottish establishments, in the Edinburgh Gazette also, specifying the period, normally one calendar month, during which representations can be made to the Privy Council Office. I emphasise that it is open to any citizen or organisation at that point to make representations. Any representations which are received are taken into account by the Committee of the Council before deciding on the advice to be offered to the Queen about the granting of the charter.

Under the College Charter Act, 1871, the petition, draft charter and annexed statutes for any new university which have been referred to a Committee of the Council are laid before both Houses of Parliament for a period of one month. While it is open to those drafting a charter to suggest the inclusion of any provision—for instance, for consultation with students on student discipline—the suggested provision may be tempered by Privy Council policy as to general desirability one way or the other or as to practicability—for instance, too much detail could lead to unnecessary work of amendment later—or it could be tempered by the Privy Council because of the need to meet representations made by a third party.

There is in England and Wales no general legislation relevant to university government and my right hon. Friend has no statutory powers in these matters. The position is slightly different in Scotland. Where, then, does the Secretary of State for Education and Science come in? He comes into it because he is, as a Privy Councillor and also as a member of any Privy Council Committee considering university matters, consulted by the Privy Council about all draft charters for new universities. The responsibility, however, for deciding what, if any, amendment is needed in any particular case rests with the Privy Council Committee as a whole.

If deadlock between the Committee of the Privy Council and the petitioners were to be reached in a particular case—happily, this has not so far happened—the only sanction which could be applied would be for the Committee to advise the Queen not to grant the charter. Presumably, in such an improbable case, the petitioning body would come back with an amended statement, which might meet the wishes of the Privy Council to a greater extent or conclusively.

Turning to the specific issue of student rights, I should like to emphasise the point which I have just made generally that before a charter is granted, full opportunities are given to anyone interested to make representations to the Privy Council. I assure the House that this is no formality. Indeed, in recent instances, numerous representations have been received and considered. As a result of this procedure, a number of amendments have been made to the draft charter and statutes as originally submitted.

An especially important instance concerned the draft charter of the University of Surrey—which, on behalf of my right hon. Friend, I examined in great detail—with regard to which the National Union of Students represented that it wished to see certain provisions included. These were mainly the right to form a students' union not subject to control by the university authorities, to have representation on the governing bodies and to be given a fair hearing in case of disciplinary offences involving suspension or expulsion, with right of appeal to an external body.

What happened was this. With Privy Council concurrence, my right hon. Friend made it known that the Privy Council had put to the sponsors of the new charters who had already applied, and would continue to put to the sponsors in future cases, the desirability, where this had not already been done, of embodying provisions in the charter and statutes to cover the following. This comes reasonably close to what my two hon. Friends have put forward as desirable provisions.

The first provision is that the senate and council of the new universities should be expressly empowered to establish joint committees of themselves and representatives of the student body. The second is that provision should be made whereby a procedure would be laid down for a right on the part of a student who was suspended or expelled to be formally heard by the senate or by a body appointed by the senate before the decision became final. The third is that provision should be made for the establishment of an association representing the student body. The charters and statutes for all the new technological universities incorporate provisions on those lines.

There have been beneficial results from this exercise on the part of my right hon. Friend. These provisions—indeed, all provisions under a charter—are subject to the general rule of our law that they should be exercised in accordance with natural justice. This point was made forcibly by my hon. Friends who have spoken in the debate. They, like others, have suggested that this, too, should appear in charters. That suggestion rests, however, on a misunderstanding. No authority may lawfully act against natural justice, and it is not for a charter to enjoin that it should be carried out according to what is already the law. Students and universities, like everybody else, are subject to the law and no charter can or should purport to put them above it or separate from it.

I have been referring to the charters of our new universities. I should mention, however, that these are only about one-quarter of all our universities. The rest derive their constitutions from charters granted over a long period of time or, in certain cases, from Acts of Parliament; and these can only be amended if the university authorities themselves apply for that to be done. Neither my right hon. Friend nor the Privy Council can require a university to do this.

Charters and statutes are, however, only part of the fabric of university government, albeit the main structure. Provision is generally made in the charters whereby the university bodies themselves can make ordinances and regulations. Mostly these are not subject to approval by the Privy Council or any other external authority.

Whether the charters and statutes provide, as do those recently granted, an outline of arrangements for student consultation and for procedure in cases of serious breaches of discipline, or whether, as in many earlier cases, they simply confer on one of the university bodies a general responsibility for student discipline, implementation is likely in either case to be through ordinances and regulations and not through a statute annexed to the charter. This is the practicality and the actuality of the position whichever method is adopted.

That is not to devalue the charter and statutes but it is why I have said before, and I am ready to say again, that the onus of evolving a satisfactory relationship with their students rests on the individual university or college authorities and, for the students' part, on a responsible approach by them also to the matter.

If the students feel that they have not an adequate say in their university's affairs or that the disciplinary arrangements need liberalisation, the proper course, which most student bodies take, is to discuss the matter with the university authorities and to come to a workable arrangement. I am sure that any responsible proposal will be given a sympathetic hearing.

Students' well-being and the success of their studies depend largely on the atmosphere in which they work, and no one would deny the importance of ensuring that this is as calm and contented as it can be in a community of young people in an exciting and, perhaps, excitable stage of their lives. Many universities have achieved this and the subject is of great and continuing interest, discussion and action throughout the university world.

There have, however, been highly publicised troubles in one college—-in neither Scotland nor Wales—but I am very glad to say that commonsense and patience have now emerged on both sides of the argument and that there is every prospect that changes will be worked out which will enable that truly great institution to carry on its work with continued distinction.

I am told that there will always be tension between the young and the middle-aged. As the father of two teen-aged students, I do not accept this. Any friction is within student bodies and possibly within staff bodies and not between the two. My experience, having spoken to staff and students of universities, is that there is likely to be variation of view about government in the universities in those two categories. The remarkable fact is that more than half of the university staff are under 40 and a high proportion are under 30.

Universities are places not for massive meek conformity but where work should be done and where it is a privilege to work. They are also organisations whose glory is that they are independent— neither staff, nor students nor Government would wish it otherwise—and indepedence implies responsibility. As I said to a conference organised on this subject by World University Service recently, the university authorities and the student bodies cannot contract out of the responsibility for finding a viable solution.

The stresses of the dramatic expansion of our universities in the last few years can be eased and removed by the steady search for basic rules and procedures—resilient and not too dogmatic—which will make a reality of joint membership of staff and students of the same community.

My hon. Friend the Member for Eccles also raised some questions which I find it difficult to deal with in this debate, such as that of the conduct of examinations. My right hon. Friend and I have no responsibility for this, which is for the individual university. Examples of laxity or irregularity are happily very rare, as one might expect when universities and their personnel are responsible for the arrangements and when there is a built-in interest in guarding against public accusation of laxity or low standards. Universities have an interest in making the best arrangements so that their examinations and their results are seen to be of the highest possible standard. It would, therefore, be wrong for my right hon. Friend to seek special powers of intervention.

My hon. Friend also referred to the need to improve university teaching methods. As one who has lectured and conducted a few seminars and tutorials, I may have some retrospective vested interest in agreeing wholeheartedly that the vast majority of university teachers do an extremely good job. It is the assumption not only here but in other countries that our university teaching is of a high standard.

Nevertheless, there have been calls, because of recent criticism, for higher standards and training for university teachers—not quite the same as for school teachers, although that is a reasonable analogy. Both the Hale and Robbins Reports made cogent comments and suggestions on this matter and the university world is fully aware of the need to help and train young lecturers to give of their best, whether by lecture, by tutorial, or by seminar.

We should remember that every university has its own techniques. I doubt whether the famous university whose staff was distinguished by the hon. Member for Glasgow, Pollok (Mr. Wright) would entirely agree with the situation in Oxbridge or the University of Wales, where there is a tendency to emphasise the tutorial above that in certain Oxford colleges.

This is the currency not of experimentation but of application. There are basic principles of university education and the widest possible variation in techniques. They are often personal to the tutor in relation to the group which he is teaching. The universities and the University Grants Committee have taken full note of both Hale and Robbins and there is substantial and fruitful discussions of means of improving teaching methods.

The debate will be examined by all with interest in the subject and I have no doubt that they will take note of what has been said. I expect the students will also note the remarks and suggestions about well-behaved but effective direct action by way of criticism which my hon. Friend the Member for Berwick and East Lothian described so graphically and attractively.

The debate having been concluded, Mr. DEPUTY SPEAKER suspended the Sitting until half-past Two o'clock, pursuant to Order.

Sitting resumed at 2.30 p.m.