HC Deb 09 April 1970 vol 799 c737
27. Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what is his estimate of the annual cost to public funds of a system of comprehensive universities; and when he intends to introduce it.

Mr. Edward Short

No estimates have been made and I have no plans to introduce it. The polytechnics are, of course, comprehensive institutions of higher education in both the composition of the student body and in the range and content of courses. A number of universities possess these characteristics to some extent. These are not matters of structural change imposed from outside but of the natural growth and development of academic communities. I greatly welcome the growing tendency of universities to diversify in these and other ways.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

Does the right hon. Gentleman recall that he introduced the subject of comprehensive universities in the context of the fact that selection by ability and aptitude at present takes place at 18? Does his answer mean that he is going to continue the practice of selection on that basis at 18 for a very considerable time to come?

Mr. Short

What I hope is that over the years the universities will become increasingly comprehensive, both in the structure of the student body—part-time, full-time, sandwich courses and so on—and also in the level of their courses, having not only degree courses but also sub-degree courses.