HC Deb 15 December 1986 vol 107 cc385-7W
Mr. Pawsey

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will list the principal achievements of his Department since 1983 in advanced education.

Mr. Walden

A Green Paper on "The Development of Higher Education into the 1990s" (Cmnd. 9524) was published in May 1985.

Since 1983, the number of home students in higher education has increased by 49,000 (24,000 full-time and 25,000 part-time), including an increase in the proportion studying science and engineering. This reflects continuing growth in higher education participation rates: since 1979 the proportion of 18 to 19-year-olds entering higher education has increased by an eighth and the number of mature entrants by more than 15 per cent. At the same time measures to preserve and enhance quality and to increase the cost-effectiveness of the system and its responsiveness to the needs of the economy have been pursued. Specific measures to link higher education and industry in collaborative projects have been encouraged including the appointment of more industrialists to educational bodies.

The University Grants Committee and the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals have agreed a programme of action for the energetic pursuit of necessary reforms in Britain's universities including better management, improved standards of teaching, greater selectivity in research funding, rationalisation of small departments and a review of tenure for academic staff.

The engineering and technology programme was launched in 1985 at a cost of £65 million over its first four years. It attracted donations of equipment and services from industry worth more than £24 million and by the end of the decade will provide about 5,000 extra high-quality places on courses in engineering and related disciplines.

The Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education has been set up to review and evaluate initial teacher training courses for which criteria have been set down.

The educational counselling and credit transfer information service (ECCTIS) has been established; and support given to the development of a computer-aided careers guidance system for graduates.

Academic validation procedures in the public sector of higher education were reviewed by a committee under Sir Norman Lindop and the Government's position was set out in a statement on 17 March 1986.

Resources were provided for "new blood" in universities, for the enhancement of equipment in selected centres of high quality research, and for support of programmes of efficiency studies in universities ani in public sector higher education.

Through the IT in HE programme, providing an additional 5,000 places at higher diploma, first degree and postgraduate level, in electronic engineering and computer science. Launching, in collaboration with other Departments, the engineering and technology programme which, by 1990, will provide a further 5,000 places on nigh quality degree courses.

At the Open university the number of undergraduate students increased in 1983 from 63,000 to 66,500; a level which has been sustained since. An additional £4.8 million has recently been made available to the university over the next three years, which will enable it to increase its annual intake from 20,500 to 22,000 in 1987 and 24,000 in each of the years 1988 and 1989. Roughly two thirds of all new students will take mathematics, science and technology courses. One and a half million pounds of this new money will enable the university to develop courses and materials to help improve mathematics, physics and technology teaching in schools. The Open university also plays an important role in meeting national needs through its continuing education programme. The number of courses within this programme has increased from 69 in 1983 to 152 in 1986.

Mr. Pawsey

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will list the principal achievements of his Department since 1983 in primary education.

Mr. Dunn

The Government's principal policies and achievements in respect to primary and other schools were set out in the White Paper "Better Schools" (Cmnd. 9469) published on 26 March 1985. Primary schools have benefited from education support grant programme activities such as those concerning the teaching of science in primary education, and pilot projects to enrich the curriculum provided in primary schools in rural areas. The Education (No. 2) Act 1986 promotes the effective management of maintained primary schools and teaching quality within them.

Mr. Pawsey

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will list the principal achievements of his Department since 1983 in secondary education.

Mr. Dunn

The Government's policies and achievements in respect of secondary schools were set out in the White Paper "Better Schools" (Cmnd. 9469) published on 26 March 1985, in particular, the definition with greater clarity of the objectives and range of the curriculum, financial support for a pilot initiative to promote technical and vocational education for 14 to 18-year-olds in schools and colleges and the support of a pilot programme for improving the education of lower attaining pupils.

Developments since then have taken further the introduction of a new system of examinations at 16 (the general certificate of secondary education) based on national criteria; the AS level examination to broaden A-level studies; the development through specially financed pilot projects of records of achievement for all school leavers.

The Education (No. 2) Act 1986 promotes the more effective management of maintained schools and teaching quality within them.

The setting up of city technology colleges will be a further significant development.

Mr. Pawsey

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will list the principal achievements of his Department since 1983 in further education.

Mrs. Rumbold

Many of the Government's achievements in further education have been set out in the White Papers "Training for Jobs" (Cmnd 9135), "Education and Training for Young People" (Cmnd 9482) and "Working Together —Education and Training" (Cmnd 9823), and in the Green Paper "The Development of Higher Education into the 1990s". Principal among them are:

  1. (i) the introducion of the certificate of pre-vocational education, which provides an attractive new option for young people who are not taking A-levels or specifically vocational courses;
  2. (ii) the formation of the Business and Technician Education council with an important role in the preparation of skilled manpower;
  3. (iii) the establishment, with the Department of Employment, of the National Council for Vocational Qualifications to improve the structure of vocational qualficiations;
  4. (iv) the encouragement of employers to make better use of colleges, and of colleges to be more responsive to the needs of employment, through, for example, the College-Employer Links Project and the involvement of the MSC in the planning of work-related non-advanced further education (NAFE);
  5. (v) the establishment, with the local authority associations, of a joint study to improve efficiency in NAFE. Related to this, the Department is encouraging, with education support grant, the introduction of computerised management information systems in colleges;
  6. (vi) the establishement of a scheme of in-service training grants for further education lecturers;
  7. (vii) the provision of education support grant to further the use of information technology in NAFE.

The implementation of the PICKUP programme to promote vocational education and training to update or broaden the skills of those in mid-career; the programme has brought about an increase in updating education of about 10 per cent. a year, especially in the areas of technology and business studies and has targets for much larger increases in the future.

The establishment of some 350 local collaborative projects in which educational institutions and firms work in partnership to offer adult training and updating—a joint venture between PICKUP and the MSC within the Government's adult training campaign.

The initiation of REPLAN for meeting more effectively the education needs of unemployed adults.

The promotion of the establishment of a national unit for the development of continuing education.

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