HC Deb 22 February 1983 vol 37 cc795-6
17. Mr. Cryer

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science when he next expects to meet the University Grants Committee to discuss priorities for university expenditure.

Mr. Waldegrave

My right hon. Friend has at present no plans to meet the University Grants Committee, but my right hon. Friend and I have frequent meetings with the committee's chairman.

Mr. Cryer

When the Minister next meets the University Grants Committee, will he tell it to reverse the savage cuts it has imposed on universities such as Bradford, Aston and Salford, so as to give young people a wider opportunity of choice, and so that the many thousands of young people who have been denied the opportunity of a university education can have that chance? Does he agree that it is significant that the only college to obtain university status is the private, Right-wing extremist college which is now the University of Buckingham? Does he further agree that that shows that the Government are pursuing their policy of private affluence and public squalor in the university sector?

Mr. Waldegrave

The absurdity of the last part of the hon. Gentleman's proposition is covered by privilege. I do not think that he would want to say it outside the House. It was a foolish remark. With regard to the first part of his question, we have often debated the reshaping of the university system.

Mr. Geoffrey Robinson

When he next meets the University Grants Committee, will the Minister bring to its attention the fact that, despite its priorities for engineering and industry, the largest increase in the most recent applications is of students who wish to study classics? Is he aware that the number has increased by 12 per cent.? Does he further agree that that is utterly ridiculous and that it is time other priorities were established and enforced?

Mr. Waldegrave

I think that the hon. Gentleman is deceived by an increase in a small base number. The overall increase in science and technology by the end of the period will be much larger in absolute numbers.