HC Deb 05 February 1980 vol 978 cc139-40W
Mr. van Straubenzee

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what new arrangements he proposes to make for the financing of student unions; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Mark Carlisle

I have decided to make a fundamental change in the financing of student unions commencing with the academic year 1981–82. Instead of fees being paid through the student awards system, I intend that unions should be financed out of institutions' recurrent funds. The effect will be to treat unions as one of the normal facilities provided for students in institutions of higher education. The amount of money to be made available for each union will be a matter for settlement at institutional, and where appropriate, local authority level alongside other claims on resources. Public expenditure on student unions, which has so far been open-ended, will become fully accountable.

I have agreed that for 1981–82 the amount that would have been made available to unions through the awards system will be transferred to institutions as part of their recurrent funds. In subsequent years expenditure on unions will be absorbed into university recurrent grant and relevant expenditure for rate support grant as a normal item of expenditure.

I would expect that within the requirements of these new arrangements institutions will continue to afford their unions freedom in the management of their affairs.

For the academic year 1980–81 I shall offer guidance, as has been done in previous years, as to the appropriate increase that might be made to current levels.