HC Deb 25 July 1972 vol 841 cc289-90W
Mr. Sydney Chapman

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what reply she has given to the request for financial help for the Architectural Association School of Architecture; and whether she will make a statement.

Mrs. Thatcher

The school is independent, and undergraduate students have received from their local education authorities a mandatory award covering the tuition fee and maintenance. Authorities had for several years objected to the high level of the tuition fee. Their associations agreed to the payment of a tuition fee of £580 (which added to the maintenance award, could total over £1,000 per student) for the academic year 1971–72 only. The associations, however, stipulated as a condition of future awards, that the school should demonstrate that its future could be secured on the basis of a fee consistent with that paid at maintained schools of architecture, but the school indicated that this could not be done without a considerable Government grant over a period of years.

I regret, however, that I could not justify undertaking such a commitment, particularly as I am satisfied that existing schools of architecture could absorb future students, if necessary. The associations have now requested me to relieve education authorities of their obligation to make mandatory awards for the undergraduate course at the school, and I have felt bound to accede to that request. Education authorities will, however, continue their awards to existing students and will be free, if they wish, to make awards to future students. It is hoped that authorities will be generous in exercising their discretion in favour of students who were expecting to enter the school this year.

In the past there have been protracted negotiations for a merger with various institutions but all have broken down. If the school should wish to pursue any further possibilities of a merger the good offices of my Department will be available in the future as in the past.