HC Deb 23 March 1967 vol 743 cc1904-5
32. Mr. Judd

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what is the general policy of his Department towards the provision of places for overseas students at British universities and centres of higher education.

Mrs. Shirley Williams

My right hon. Friend made his views clear in the debate on 23rd February. The decision on admission of individual students is a matter for the institution concerned.

Mr. Judd

Does my hon. Friend agree that there is an inherent value in an international environment in further education and that recent reports of Ministerial statements have given rise to widespread misgiving that there is a short-sighted and Little Englander attitude towards further education growing in Britain?

Mrs. Williams

I ask my hon. Friend to accept my assurance that there is great sympathy with the concept of a university as having an international function to perform, and I would certainly want to see overseas students contributing greatly to that atmosphere.

Mr. Fowler

Will my hon. Friend prepare a recosting of the cost of overseas students in British universities based on a more realistic assessment than the method at present used of dividing total maintenance costs by the total number of students, which does not give the true marginal cost per student, and will she revise her policy in the light of that?

Mrs. Williams

I shall bear that suggestion in mind.

Mr. McNamara

My hon. Friend will recall that, when the Secretary of State spoke, he referred to vacancies in African and Asian universities which were not taken up by students in those countries. Can she say what research has gone into that and the comparable places available in British universities and technical institutions which are not available in African and Asian institutions, and whether there are—

Mr. Speaker

Order. Supplementary questions, even on the last day, should be brief.

Mrs. Williams

I should need notice to answer that question fully. There has been some indication from overseas university representatives that there are vacancies in undergraduate positions in such universities and institutions, but I think that, broadly speaking, it is postgraduate facilities which, above all, are lacking overseas.