HC Deb 24 February 1982 vol 18 cc851-2
11. Mr. Douglas

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement on the numbers of students who will leave Scottish schools in the summer of 1982 possessing university entrance qualifications.

Mr. Alexander Fletcher

Entrance qualifications vary between universities and between departments. I therefore cannot make an accurate estimate of the figure which the hon. Gentleman is seeking.

Mr. Douglas

When the result becomes clear post hoc will the Minister concede that there will be a demand for places in Scottish universities that will not be able to be fulfilled because of the cuts in the university education brought about by the University Grants Committee and his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science? Will he examine the position by which grants for technological universities and other universities are being cut at a time when universities on a collegiate basis in England are expanding, thereby making the apportionment of UGC funds unfair to Scotland?

Mr. Fletcher

I deny the last point. Scotland has come out of the UGC's reappraisal better than any other part of the United Kingdom. Knowing the right hon. Gentleman's interest in technology and subjects of that kind, I presume that he will welcome the fact that the UGC, in carrying out its strategy, has aimed at a policy of a shift in the balance of university places so that student numbers will increase in the subjects with which he is concerned.

Mr. Henderson

As there will be a substantial fall in the number of people who will reach the age of 18 in every year from next year to 1990, together with more money being spent per pupil in Scotland than ever before, can we hope for a significant improvement in the proportion of children who achieve university qualifications?

Mr. Fletcher

At present, the numbers who are achieving university entrance type qualifications is on the increase. As my hon. Friend will be aware, not every school leaver who achieves those qualifications wishes to go to university. Some wish to enter employment immediately and others go to colleges of various sorts.

Mr. O'Neill

Is the Minister aware that the institute that the Government are trying to starve of resources—Stirling university—is experiencing an increase in applications of 9 per cent., whereas in the United Kingdom as a whole the increase is only 3 per cent.? Is he satisfied that he is giving adequate backing to that institution, which needs the support of everyone in Scotland?

Mr. Fletcher

The hon. Gentleman will be aware that the allocation of funds to universities is entirely a matter for the University Grants Committee.

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