HC Deb 11 May 1972 vol 836 cc1524-5
1. Mr. Dalyell

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what representations she has had from the Vice-Chancellors Committee on the subject of student accommodation; and what plans she has discussed to make greater provision.

The Under-Secretary of State for Education and Science (Mr. William van Straubenzee): My right hon. Friend has received and discussed with the Vice-Chancellors Committee a memorandum on the 1972–77 quinquennium which includes its view on student accommodation. She hopes that building programmes already authorised will make it possible to increase the number of university residential places from nearly 87,000 in 1970–71 to about 120,000 in 1974–75.

Mr. Dalyell

In relation to the 1972–77 programme, in 1977 how much of the university accommodation will supposedly be substandard?

Mr. van Straubenzee

I would prefer to limit myself to the programmes which have already been announced. As the hon. Gentleman realises, they show a welcome increase in the percentage of students who will be in provided residences.

Mr. R. C. Mitchell

Is the Minister aware that in many university towns the acute shortage of accommodation and the fact that four or five students are willing to share one flat are forcing up rent levels of private flats to the disadvantage of local inhabitants?

Mr. van Straubenzee

I am also aware, Sir, that there are special difficulties in the city, part of which the hon. Gentleman represents, but the loan finance system now being operated by the University Grants Committee, taking the country as a whole, is working remarkably well.

25. Mr. Deakins

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what is the cost per student of providing purpose-built residential accommodation for university students and for students in other institutions of advanced education.

Mr. van Straubenzee

The basic building cost of providing a study bedroom and ancillary accommodation for a student in the public sector is £970. When the cost of fees, furniture and external works is taken into account the total figure is of the order of £1,300 per student. The cost for a university student is about the same.

Mr. Deakins

The hon. Gentleman will be aware that that is a very welcome answer. Will it be the policy of the Government to ensure that other facilities as between the public sector and the universities will work out at the same equal figure of cost per student?

Mr. van Straubenzee

I would not like to give an assurance over the whole range, but the hon. Gentleman will know, because I am very much in sympathy with the spirit of his supplementary question, that building cost limits have significantly been improved in the public sector, to the benefit of both the sectors about which he is concerned.

Mr. Moyle

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that many conventional commercial organisations will not provide finance for this purpose but that the Vice-Chancellors Committee has recommended that a public body should be set up to deal with this matter? In view of the conversion of the Vice-Chancellors at any rate to a modicum of Socialism, will not the hon. Gentleman give in gracefully?

Mr. van Straubenzee

I am not sure that this is proving a difficulty commercially. In fact, in the current year it is going well. However I am always prepared, within proper limits and with reference to the University Grants Committee, to look into any particular case.

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