HC Deb 23 October 1990 vol 178 cc184-5
10. Mr. Nigel Griffiths

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will make a statement on student accommodation.

Mr. Alan Howarth

Higher education institutions are autonomous bodies, and it is for them to decide what accommodation to provide for their students. Approximately half of the students in higher education are accommodated by their institution or live at home with their parents.

Mr. Griffiths

Why have the Government done nothing to tackle the serious problem of accommodation for students, and left students in Edinburgh and elsewhere sleeping on camp beds in common rooms and using staff accommodation in hospitals? Is not it time that they conducted an inquiry and took effective action to make adequate accommodation available?

Mr. Howarth

The hon. Gentleman completely fails to understand that Britain provides far more accommodation for students than any other country. Some 37 per cent. of students in higher education in Britain are accommodated by their institutions. That is a much higher percentage than elsewhere. In France and Germany, it is about 10 per cent. and in other European Community countries it is as low as 3 per cent. The hon. Gentleman overlooks the fact that during the period of office of the previous Labour Government it was decided that accommodation matters were not part of the University Grants Committee remit and that student accommodation should not receive a public subsidy. We have provided £25 million in access funds to enable institutions to help students who are in need. I pay tribute to accommodation officers in all universities for their successful efforts to ensure that students are accommodated.