HC Deb 17 December 1970 vol 808 cc1534-5
1. Mr. Grylls

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what is the average maximum number of students, full-time and Dart-time, that she visualises in the 30 polytechnics by 1980.

The Secretary of State for Education and Science (Mrs. Margaret Thatcher)

The number of higher education institutions we shall need in 1980 and their student numbers will depend on future Government decisions about the development of higher education.

Mr. Grylls

I thank my right hon. Friend for that answer. Is she aware that the speech of the Under-Secretary of State at Leicester on 2nd December was a source of great comfort and encouragement to all concerned with polytechnics, but that there are many people in the local education authorities who are very concerned to know student numbers for planning. Could my right hon. Friend give some indication as soon as possible so that they can prepare their plans well ahead? Could consideration be given to additional polytechnics outside London, which already has three universities and eight polytechnics, and to concentrating further provision in the provinces?

Mr. Speaker

Long questions mean fewer questions.

Mrs. Thatcher

Perhaps it might help my hon. Friend to know that at the moment polytechnic buildings costing some £12 million are now under construction and a further £7.5 million worth should start before April, 1972. This should give a good deal of extra provision.

Mr. Alan Williams

But is it not about time the right hon. Lady stopped dithering on the whole question of future student numbers and revealed the criteria that she is using within her Department for the next 10 years? Or is she afraid to reveal her thinking on this matter until the botch-up on comprehensive education has been forgotten?

Mrs. Thatcher

If the hon. Gentleman has done his homework, as I am sure he has, he will know that decisions on university grant places are not expected until next year, because the figures will not be in until then.