§ The Minister of State, Department of Education and Science (Mr. Gordon Oakes)
The provisional number in 1976– 77 is 33,000. A modest reduction in numbers is likely in 1977–78 and 1978–79.
§ Mrs. Bain
Is the Minister aware that overseas students are currently concerned about the implications of the Suthendran judgment of July 1976 for those currently at British universities? Does he not think that any reduction whatever in the number of students from overseas countries goes very much against the whole policy of aid to developing countries, particularly against the background of the North-South dialogue?
§ Mr. Oakes
I am aware of the concern expressed particularly on behalf of the students who are already here. A hardship fund was set up for the purpose of helping students both at universities and in the public sector who are already here. With regard to the general policy, I think the House accepts that some limitation of numbers of overseas students is essential, otherwise they would be taking up places at the expense of home students.
§ Mr. Flannery
Will my hon. Friend relate the question of the drop in the number of overseas students to the increase in fees? Does he not think that the increase in fees militates against the poorer students coming here and ensures that the students who are fairly wealthy come here as opposed to the poorer students? Is not that something of which we ought to take great note?
§ Dr. Hampson
Will the Minister admit that a year ago in the public expenditure White Paper the Government said that they would raise an extra £42 million out of overseas students' fees in the finan- 222 cial year 1977–78? On the latest figures, they seem to have raised about £28 million. Are they still committed to raising fees to get another £14 million, or are they not?