HC Deb 12 June 1969 vol 784 cc1641-2
5. Mr. Brooks

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether he will set up a Committee of Inquiry into the post-graduate degrees and qualifications awarded by universities.

The Minister of State, Department of Education and Science (Mrs. Shirley Williams)

No, Sir. The awarding of degrees and other qualifications is a matter for the universities themselves. I understand that in recent years the universities have done a great deal to liberalise their higher degree regulations, and broaden the patterns of their postgraduate work.

Mr. Brooks

Would my hon. Friend not agree that recently there has been a vast proliferation in the number and type of post-graduate awards and that this matter requires some attention in view of the potential rôle which graduate schools could play in our university and higher educational work in the years ahead?

Mrs. Williams

My hon. Friend might like to know that the University Grants Committee in its memorandum of guidance for the 1967 quinquennium specifically indicated that there should be a slowing down of conventional postgraduate degrees and that they should be replaced by degrees with a more vocational basis and also by more post-experience degrees. The research councils, especially the Science Research Council, are making a larger proportion of their awards applicable to post-experience courses.

Sir E. Boyle

Has the Minister's attention been drawn to the interesting article by Mr. Martin Trow in the Higher Educational Review in which he points out the primacy of the first degree in our higher educational system? Does it not point to the desirability of some sort of inquiry on the lines suggested by the hon. Member?

Mrs. Williams

At present the situation is so new in respect of the Research Council's emphasis on post-experience that we should like to see a proportion of students coming forward for this new type of award before we thought it appropriate to begin any major inquiry.