HL Deb 10 June 1982 vol 431 cc398-9WA
The Earl of Kinnoull

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What is their response to the study by the Overseas Students Trust published on 6th June.

Lord Belstead

On 19th May 1981 Her Majesty's Government announced that with our encouragement and co-operation the Overseas Students Trust were embarking on further work with a view to drawing up a range of options. The study published on 6th June, constitutes that further work and represents in the Government's view a comprehensive and constructive contribution to the development of future policy on overseas students. It contains a number of recommendations which the Government will consider seriously, although as the trust were advised when they embarked on their work, no new money can be made available. Account will need to be taken of the balance of requirements for home and overseas students. Reallocation of resources within existing programmes will need to be measured against overall priorities. Some proposals will involve further consultation with different interests.

In welcoming the study the Government have the following immediate comments on the study's main propositions:

First, the Government recognise the importance of encouraging overseas students to the United Kingdom and that there are educational, economic and foreign policy reasons for so doing.

Secondly, we are glad that the study recognises that there can be no return to the previous policy of indiscriminate and open-ended subsidy and we agree that a principal mechanism should be schemes of support targeted at particular groups of students.

Thirdly, we accept that it is not desirable to control overseas student numbers by a system of quotas. Fourthly, we agree in principle that the allocation of resources under existing student support schemes should be re-examined. Fifthly, we intend to give further study, subject to existing constraints on our financial resources, to the suggestions for schemes involving the co-operation and support of foreign and Commonwealth Governments and the private sector. Finally, we note the recommendations that institutions should be given greater flexibility to set their fee levels and that the definaton of home and overseas students should be re-examined. Both are receiving further study.