HC Deb 27 June 1968 vol 767 cc793-4
14. Mr. Evelyn King

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will increase the grants to the University Grants Committee in order that university teachers of improved calibre may be secured.

Mr. Edward Short

There is a standing reference of university academic salaries to the National Board for Prices and Incomes. In the meantime, I have no reason to suppose that the universities are not attracting their fair share of the best talent.

Mr. King

Do not the standards of a minority of university teachers, whether judged in terms of stability or even loyalty to the institution they serve, sometimes fall below what is tolerable? Is not this unfair to students? Will the right hon. Gentleman consider initiating a study of the demand for university teachers and their supply?

Mr. Short

The hon. Gentleman is asking a quite different question. I answered the Question he put. I think that the arrangements for a permanent review of their salaries are adequate to ensure that we get people of the highest calibre.

Mr. Ford

Does my right hon. Friend agree that before we can talk about obtaining university teachers of improved calibre we should have settled rates of salaries? Is he aware that the current claim is seriously delayed, and that that is causing great dissatisfaction in the profession?

Mr. Short

I think that it is an exaggeration to say that there is serious dissatisfaction among university teachers. There may be some dissatisfaction, but I have not heard of any excessive pressure about this. As I said, the salaries are permanently referred to the Prices and Incomes Board.

Mr. Jennings

As a small section of university staffs have taken an active part in recent student discontent, would the right hon. Gentleman be prepared to institute a full inquiry into the relationships between students, university staff and university authorities?

Mr. Short

I am not prepared to institute any such inquiry. I take a very poor view of university staffs allying themselves with illegal action. But, having said that, I think that it is high time the universities put their houses in order as well and gave their undergraduates and junior staffs some say in running the universities. If the universities are to maintain the concept of a self-governing body of scholars, they cannot have second-rate citizens in their community. They must give the junior staff and students a share in the decision-making of all their bodies.