HC Deb 22 November 1983 vol 49 cc158-9
14. Mr. Strang

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what consideration the Government have given to the level of funding for the universities in the next five years; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Brooke

My right hon. Friend's written answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Norwich, North (Mr. Thompson) on 17 November said that recurrent grant to the universities on the UGC list for the academic year 1984–85 would be £1,265 million. My right hon. Friend will give a provisional indication of the level of funding for later years as soon as possible.

Mr. Strang

Does the Government's request to the universities to take additional students mean that the cut in student places was a mistake, due to which thousands of school leavers with university qualifications are on the dole, on YTS or taking jobs that should be available to young people without those qualifications?

Mr. Brooke

The UGC has asked universities whether they are prepared to admit additional students within existing resources during the period of peak demand. I am sure that with good will a great deal can be achieved. The reduction in student numbers planned by the UGC has given some protection to the "unit of resource".

Mr. Robert B. Jones

In assessing funding for individual universities in the coming year, will my hon. Friend make clear to the UGC the importance of the guarantee of free speech in our universities, in view of the ineffectual reactions of Birmingham and Manchester universities to evidence of lack of free speech in the recent past?

Mr. Brooke

Responsibility for student discipline lies with the institution concerned. In universities, the procedures are prescribed in statutes and in ordinances. For polytechnics and colleges in the maintained sector they are contained in the articles of government. In addition, of course, students are subject to the law.

Mr. Steel

May I press the Minister to make clear when the long-term funding of the universities will be made known? Will he accept that it is impossible for universities to budget on a year-to-year basis as his Department is insisting?

Mr. Brooke

I note the merit of the right hon. Gentleman's question. The information will be given as soon as possible.

Mr. Andrew F. Bennett

Does the Minister's statement make it clear that the Government are going back to supporting the Robbins' principle that all pupils who achieve two A-levels should be entitled to higher education? Will he support the views expressed by the Prime Minister when she was Secretary of State for Education and Science that 22 per cent. of the age group should benefit from higher education?

Mr. Brooke

Given greater efficiency and economy, the Government's present expenditure should enable demand for higher and further education to be met at the lower boundary of the Department's projections.

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