HL Deb 08 July 1980 vol 411 cc1019-22

2.45 p.m.


My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government how exactly the careful monitoring of the effects of "full cost" fees for overseas students, recently announced by the Secretary of State for Education and Science, will be carried out.


My Lords, statistics should be available soon after the start of the next academic year to enable a first assessment to be made of the overall effect of the policy of full cost fees. In the light of this, further information will be collected about specific effects in institutions. All the available data will be carefully examined by the department in consultation with the University Grants Committee and the local authority associations.


My Lords, I thank the Minister for that reply. Can she tell us whether the necessary statistics will be assembled more speedily than in recent years—they have been very much delayed in recent years—and how the various groups will be identified? For instance, will refugees and recently arrived immigrants in this country still be counted as overseas students? And, generally, what do the Government plan to do as a result of the whole exercise?

Baroness YOUNG

My Lords, consultations between the department, the University Grants Committee and the local authority associations will be taking place later on in the year when firm facts and figures are available. We expect to know something about the figures from the universities and the polytechnics towards the end of this year. We shall find out about the institutions of higher education early in 1981. I cannot anticipate what action may or may not be necessary until the facts are known.


My Lords, would the Minister agree that whatever conclusions may be drawn from the statistics collected this year, they will already be out of date because on 1st January, 1981 it is the intention of Her Majesty's Government to charge overseas students for any medical treatment that they receive under the National Health Service? So on top of the burden of the increased fees, they will have to pay for an insurance policy to take care of this eventuality. Will the Government continue the assembly of the statistics into next year so that the deterrent effect of the large increases in fees, plus the charges for medical treatment, can be fully taken into account?

Baroness YOUNG

My Lords, it is our intention that the monitoring will continue over a period of two to three years. So far as the question of medical treatment is concerned, that is another question and I should be happy to answer it if the noble Lord cared to put down a Question on that issue.

Baroness VICKERS

My Lords, may I ask the Minister whether, in the monitoring which is to take place, consideration will be given to the finances of the smaller islands and countries like Bangladesh which are very badly in need of qualified people in the professions and industry?

Baroness YOUNG

My Lords, we shall be keeping in touch with the Foreign Office and with other relevant Government departments in order to keep them fully in the picture as all the facts and figures become available.


My Lords, when the monitoring of the effects of these higher fees takes place, may I ask the Minister whether there will be consideration not only of the poorer countries, as the noble Baroness, Lady Vickers, has suggested, but of the fact that tile élite are able to pay these higher fees while many students of poorer communities are ruled out from attending our universities?

Baroness YOUNG

My Lords, we believe that we are meeting our obligations to the developing countries through the aid programme. The various programmes and schemes supported add up to a substantial contribution costing some £36 million this year for the training of people from developing countries.


My Lords, is the Minister aware how grateful the University of London is to the Government for having made available £3.75 million to help the university and for putting that money at the disposal of the University Grants Committee, in view of the very large proportion of overseas students which the university has? Is she also aware that if half the present number of overseas students come at competitive fees, the post graduate medical schools and institutes will still lose £5.4 million, and the four most affected non-medical schools, such as the London School of Economics and the School of Oriental and African Studies, would lose £3.5 million? Is she further aware that even if three quarters of the present number of students came at the full economic fee, the whole university, after taking into account that £3.75 million, would still be £4 million short?

Baroness YOUNG

My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for the first part of his supplementary question. On the second part, of course the monitoring process is entirely to take account of the kind of facts that he has elucidated, and I think it would not be helpful to make a judgment about what might or might not happen when we do not know the situation —and we shall not know until we undertake the monitoring exercise.

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