HC Deb 16 December 1982 vol 34 cc185-7W
Mr. Madel

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will make a further statement about the programme of recruitment by the universities of additional young researchers and lecturers and about additional provision for information technology, to which he referred in his statement on 18 November, Official Report, c. 41.

Sir Keith Joseph

Yes. This answer covers two separate but related initiatives—information technology on the one hand and "new blood" on the other. In accordance with the Government's policy of enhancing the strength of United Kingdom industry and commerce in information technology and of encouraging the wider application and acceptance of the new technology, I am making additional provision, beginning in 1983–84, for expansion of the training of qualified manpower, and of research, in fields relating to information technology.

Additional places will be made available in universities and polytechnics at all levels—postgraduate and post-experience, first degree and higher diploma and certificate courses—in disciplines related to information technology. In 1983–84 I am making provision for the support of some 600 more postgraduate and post-experience university students, mainly on one year advanced courses, including conversion courses, but also for three-year research training; and 400 more in the polytechnics, again mainly on one year courses including conversion. The awards, which will cover both maintenance and fees in the normal way, will be administered by the Science and Engineering Research Council.

On first degree, higher diploma and higher certificate courses there will be an additional 1,100 places in 1983–84. Extra grant will be given to the University Grants Committee for some 70 extra posts in the universities in 1983–84 and to the SERC for about 45 Research Fellowships. The location of the university posts will be decided by the UGC in consultation with the SERC. Provision is also included for the necessary teaching staff in the polytechnics and other maintained colleges.

As I announced in my statement of 8 November, an additional £2 million is being made available in non-advanced further education in 1983–84 to strengthen the training of technicians and related staff in information technology.

It is my intention, subject to the annual review of public expenditure, that these programmes should increase in the following two years to secure, in 1985–86, some 2,000 extra postgraduate and post-experience students with a similar expansion at lower levels, some 400 additional staff in universities and polytechnics, and a trebling of research fellowships.

On research, I accept the advice of the Advisory Board for the Research Councils that within the science Vote high priority should be given to information technology, and that the Science and Engineering Research Council should devote an additional £5 million in 1983–84 to research in this field, partly by redeployment within the science Vote and partly by additional provision. I have therefore augmented its 1983–84 allocation accordingly; and, subject to the annual review of public expenditure, intend to provide further funds for this purpose in the two following years on the lines indicated by the board.

More details of the programmes will be announced soon by the UGC and SERC. In the local authority sector, the allocation of the advanced further education pool for 1983–84, details of which I shall announce shortly, will reflect the advice of the national advisory body to which I am indebted for its swift help on the distribution of the additional provision and the associated resources in their sector.

The need to maintain a flow of new blood into the universities, particularly in the field of scientific research, has been represented to me by both the University Grants Committee and the Advisory Board for the Research Councils. I am glad to announce that I have been able to make available to the UGC about £4 million extra recurrent grant for the 1983–84 academic year which will enable the universities to recruit some 230 additional lecturers, apart from those described above for information technology. It is expected that 200 will be recruited in the natural sciences and technology and about 30 in the arts. The extra grant will include a contribution for research costs and overheads.

The posts will be normal university appointments. But, since I am particularly concerned about maintaining the vitality of research in universities, the research councils and the UGC will in consultation decide the location of the science and technology lectureships. Although the additional lecturers will have teaching duties, their primary role in the early years will be to contribute to research. The UGC will announce further details soon.

I expect, subject to the annual review of public expenditure, to provide grant in 1984–85 and 1985–86 to allow further recruitment in each of those years of about the same numbers as in 1983–84.

In recognition of the likely increase in demand for research grants consequent on these appointments the allocations from the science Vote to the natural science research councils have been augmented in the 1983–84 financial year by a total of £2.5 million and will be augmented by a similar sum in 1984–85. This money will not be tied to the new appointments, but will be subject to competitive application in the normal way.

The total additional expenditure in the financial year 1983–84 to promote information technology by measures within my sphere of responsibility will thus be just over £13 million; of this just over £5 million will be met from the additional £10 million to which I referred in my statement of 8 November, with the addition of the £4 million for advanced and non-advanced further education, which I also announced then, and of £4 million from the science Vote. The cost of the new blood measures—some £4.8 million in the financial year 1983–84—will be met from the balance of the £10 million.

The two initiatives, together will therefore be receiving an extra £18 million for 1983–84 subject to the annual review of public expenditure. I intend that these programmes should continue and grow in the following two years so that over the three year period they should receive in all a sum of the order of £100 million.

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