§ Mr. Shersby
asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what is the total number of overseas students studying in higher education in the United Kingdom; what is the average level of subsidy of those who are subsidised; what is the total cost to the Exchequer; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Waldegrave
In 1980–81, the last year for which figures are available at present in sufficient detail to answer my hon. Friend's question—there were 50,700 students from overseas at universities in Great Britain and public sector institutions of higher education in England. Included in the total are two groups of students eligible for subsidised fees, the cost of the subsidy involved falling within the Department's programme: 2,700 students from EC countries charged the home fee at a total estimated subsidy cost—at 1980–81 prices—of around £7.75 million, and 26,400 students from other countries who had embarked on their course in 1979–80 or earlier and who pay a susidised—though higher than home—rate of fee until they complete their course. The cost of subsidising these students in 1980–81 is estimated to have been £60 million.
The subsidy costs quoted have been calculated using estimates of per capita subsidy for university students given on 23 November 1981 in my reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Southend, East (Mr. Taylor) and comparable estimates for advanced further education of £2,114—EC students—and £1,689—others. It should be noted that these estimates are obtained by comparing recommended fee levels for the relevant group of overseas students with the estimated average unit cost for all students—home and overseas—across the full range of courses provided.
Since 1980–81 all new entrants from non-EC countries have been charged full cost fees, other than certain selected postgraduate students awarded bursaries under the overseas research students scheme. It is intended that up to 1,500 bursaries should be available by 1982–83 at an estimated cost to the Department's Vote of around £3 million. The Department's Vote also bears the cost of the United Kingdom share of expenditure—approximately £0.15 million in 1980–81—under the Fulbright scholarship scheme—involving 40 students from the United States of America.
Students attending Northern Irish institutions and Scottish and Welsh public sector institutions are the responsibility of my right hon. Friends the Secretaries of State for Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Support for overseas students under various schemes is also the responsibility of my right hon. Friends the Secretaries of State for Foreign Affairs and Trade.