HC Deb 22 June 1982 vol 26 cc144-5
11. Mr. Whitehead

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science when he expects to announce the level of student grants for the coming year.

The Under-Secretary of State for Education and Science (Mr. William Waldegrave)

I understand that the hon. Member is referring to the academic year 1983–84. My right hon. Friend would normally expect to announce the level of student grants around the turn of the year.

Mr. Whitehead

Did the Minister have the opportunity to meet the deputation from the National Union of Students that lobbied the House and met many of his hon. Friends last month? Has he had an opportunity to study its contention that students are now much worse off and are experiencing serious financial hardship because of the reduction in their grants, the phasing out of many discretionary awards and the increase in hall charges? Will the Minister give his Department's calculation of the extent to which, under the 1982–83 figures, students will be worse off in real terms? What can be done to rectify that in the following year?

Mr. Waldegrave

We are in no doubt that the grant settlement for 1982–83 puts students under pressure. The rate of award for London students is rather better, compared with the past, than for other students, but we are well aware of the pressures.

Mr. David Steel

Is the Under-Secretary aware that, for example, it has been necessary for the University of Edinburgh to increase its accommodation charges by 10 per cent., whereas the student grant is to be increased by only 4 per cent? To what extent will that leeway be made up in the following year?

Mr. Waldegrave

The right hon. Gentleman will understand that I cannot give any commitments for future years. Many universities have managed to keep their increases in hall fees to within 4 per cent. I know that some, like Edinburgh, have had to go higher.

Mr. Peter Bottomley

Is there any reason why the Department cannot announce in advance the principles on which it will base the increase in student grants each year?

Mr. Waldegrave

The fundamental principle is how much money is available.