HC Deb 23 January 1985 vol 71 cc438-9W
Mr. Raffan

asked the Secretary of State for Wales if he is able to announce his decisions on local authority higher education provision in 1985–86; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Nicholas Edwards

Having consulted the Welsh Joint Education Committee and the Welsh Counties Committee I have decided that the advanced further education quantum for 1985–86 should be set at £28.5 million. This represents a 6.75 per cent. increase between 1984–85 and 1985–86 when allowance is made for the abolition of the national insurance surcharge.

I have received advice from the Wales Advisory Body on the planned disposition of academic provision and of students in local authority higher education. The WAB proposals provide for growth in student numbers in Wales in 1985–86, but with a shift of emphasis towards science, engineering and other vocational disciplines. The proposals include safeguards for sub-degree and part-time courses. WAB has also provided advice on how the AFE quantum of £28.5 million should be distributed between local authorities and I have consulted the WJEC and the WCC on this also. The recommendations put forward by WAB are the result of a planning exercise, which involved consultations with individual local authorities and their higher education establishments about their present and planned provision, and consideration of how local authority higher education in Wales as a whole should be developed. The proposals for distributing the quantum are relatedd to the proposals for target student numbers for 1985–86 by institution, mode of attendance and subject. The method of allocation proposed will put pressure on high-spending institutions to become more cost-effective but will also protect institutions against unacceptably large reductions in their funding between 1984–85 and 1985–86.

I have decided to accept the WAB's advice on academic provision and student numbers and on the distribution of the quantum. Local education authorities have been informed of this decision and of their individual allocations.

Copies of a note explaining the method by which the AFE quantum for 1985–86 have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.