HC Deb 29 November 1976 vol 921 cc473-4
38. Mr. Bryan Davies

asked the Minister for Overseas Development what steps he intends to take to mitigate the impact upon poor students from underdeveloped countries of any increase in tuition fees for education courses in the United Kingdom in the next academic year.

Mr. Prentice

I am introducing a new Fee Support Scheme to assist selected private postgraduate students from the poorer developing countries. Further details are in a Written Answer given to my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Heeley (Mr. Hooley) today.

Mr. Davies

One derives some encouragement from that reply. Would my right hon. Friend accept that the increase in fees must produce hardship over a much wider range than the category he has identified? Should not his Ministry look closely at the necessity for extra support for such students?

Mr. Prentice

The wider question was discussed in the House last week, when the Secretary of State for Education and Science made her announcement. I should make it clear that those students who receive grants from ODM will of course have the increase in fees met entirely from the aid funds. We are trying here to help those in the greatest need, concentrating particularly on postgraduates because they have had to face the largest fees increase, and to do so within a total ceiling which will not put too great a burden on the aid programme but will, I hope, help those in the greatest need who entered into the commitment of these courses before this change of policy was announced.

Mr. Marten

Could priority be given to students from developing countries in the Commonwealth?

Mr. Prentice

Priority will be given to students from the poorest developing countries, a large proportion of whom will be from the Commonwealth.