HC Deb 13 July 1972 vol 840 c1827
12. Mr. Edward Lyons

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether she will cause a comparative study to be made of the worth of the various ways by which, at public expense, United Kingdom students abroad learn foreign languages.

Mr. van Straubenzee

No, Sir. It is best left to the academic authorities to decide what arrangements their students should follow.

Mr. Lyons

In view of the enormous and growing expenditure incurred in sending thousands of students overseas every year to learn foreign languages, is it not common prudence to ensure that public money is used advantageously? There are many ways in which students who go abroad learn foreign languages and no check has been made on the relative efficiency of those methods. This is not fair to students or to the taxpayer.

Mr. van Straubenzee

Unquestionably it must be right to keep an eye on the efficacy of the training and I suggest to the hon. Member, who I know has studied the subject, that there is a wide range of courses under which young people go abroad. I wonder whether one study to evaluate them all is the most efficacious way of considering them. The hon. Member wrote to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State on 21st June about a specific research project related to the matter. The subject is being carefully considered and I shall write to him as soon as I can.