HC Deb 24 April 1969 vol 782 cc641-2
23 and 24. Mr. J. H. Osborn

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science (1) what percentage and numbers of students entering universities in the year commencing October, 1968 are reading scientific, technological, engineering and arts subjects, respectively; and how this position has changed from the previous two years;

(2) what was the total number of places in universities available for scientific, technological and engineering subjects in October, 1968; how many of the places available for new students were taken up in each subject, respectively; and how many places have not been taken up respectively and in total.

Mrs. Shirley Williams

Since the Answer contains a number of figures, I will publish it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Mr. Osborn

Is it not a fact that the number of students in universities taking scientific and technological subjects as a percentage of the whole is diminishing? On top of the fact that many places are not being taken up in the universities in these subjects, does not this present the hon. Lady and the Government with

Science Engineering and Technology Arts
Number Percentage of total admissions Number Percentage of total admissions Number Percentage of total admissions
October, 1966 14,748 27.5 9,077 16.9 10,758 20.1
October, 1967 16,210 28.4 9,375 16.4 12,119 21.2

Information about admissions in 1968 is not yet available from the University Grants Committee. Figures for 1968 obtained by the Universities Central Council on Admissions, which are not necessarily comparable with those given above, are set out in their Sixth Report and are contrasted in Table 5 of the Report with the universities' estimates of the numbers they could admit.

a problem? What are they going to do about it?

Mrs. Williams

It might, if it were true, but I am glad to say that it is not entirely true. Between 1966 and 1967 the percentage proportion of science places showed a slight increase. The percentage proportion of technological places showed a slight decrease, but less than the increase in science. Although the finalised figures for October, 1968, are not yet available from the U.G.C., there is reason to believe, on the provisional figures, that the pattern is again repeated.

The early indications for October, 1967,—I want to stress that the figures here are sample figures of the earliest admissions—seem to suggest that the trend is changing considerably in the direction of science and technology. I hope that that trend will be confirmed.

Mr. J. E. B. Hill

As this is "Women in Engineering Year", may I ask the Minister what she is doing to encourage more women to become students in engineering and scientific subjects?

Mrs. Williams

The right hon. Gentleman was kind enough not to suggest that I abandon my job and become an engineer, but I take the hint. I should like to stress that we are endeavouring, through project technology and by persuading the universities to broaden their entrance qualifications, to get more girls and boys available to take technological and applied science courses.

Following is the Answer: